With the release of its new mobile Pentium II microprocessors complete, Intel is turning its attention to the other processor announcements it has been planning for this month: the debut of Celeron--it's new low-end processor--and the release of 350 and 400 MHz Pentium II CPUs for desktops.

The release of Celeron, essentially a Pentium II with no L2 cache, is particularly controversial. Intel is trying to force consumers away from the Pentium microprocessor because it uses a freely available motherboard "socket" that other CPU manufactures such as AMD can use. Pentium II microprocessors, including the Celeron, require a special socket that Intel isn't giving away. But the Celeron, stripped of its L2 cache, will not run as fast as the Pentiums it is replacing. L2 cache boost performance, and its use of the Pentium Pro and Pentium II is one of the prime reasons for those processors' superior performance. Also, the Celeron runs at only 266 MHz in a time when mainstream Pentium IIs are running at 300 and 333 MHz.

A future Celeron CPU, code-named "Mendocino", will likely contain an L2 cache which will bring its performance back up to Pentium II levels. In the meantime, the first generation Celeron will form the basis of many sub-$1200 PCs.

Also due this month are Intel's latest Pentium II microprocessors, which will run at 350 and 400 MHz. More importantly, systems built around these new processors will be the first to feature Intel's new 100 MHz system bus. Current Pentium II system buses run at only 66 MHz. In July, a 450 MHz version is expected, that will require an entirely different kind of socket (the so-called "Slot 2"); these systems will also utilize the 100 MHz system bus, however