Intel Corporation on Monday introduced its 433 MHz Celeron processor, three months earlier than expected. The company also said that the next Celeron, which will run at 466 MHz, will debut next quarter. The suddenly aggressive low-end strategy comes as AMD has begun to make inroads with its K6-2 and K6-3 processors.

"Computers with the new Intel Celeron processor give consumers leading value PC performance and a great way to get on the Internet for around $1000," said Paul Otellini, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Business Group. "The production ramp of these processors has been the fastest in Intel history. We'll continue to aggressively ramp both the volume and capabilities of this processor family in order to bring more value to consumers as quickly as possible."

This move bolsters the Celeron line, which is generally used in sub-$1000 PCs, despite the fact that Celeron chips are roughly as powerful as equivalent Pentium II and Pentium III chips, which power higher-end systems. The Celeron 433 will cost only $175 per chip. Intel now offers Celerons running at 433, 400, 366, and 333 MHz.