Remember the Core Solo processor? It was most prominently used in the original Intel-based Mac mini (mostly because it was the first budget Mac using an Intel processor). The Core Solo was used in a lot of mid-range and ultraportable systems.
So, when Core 2 Solo came out, I was dismayed to learn it was only in ultra-low-voltage configurations. That means that it would become a niche marketing tool, for UMPC and ultraportable notebooks.
Here’s where things get confusing. Intel decided to take the mainstream Core 2 Solo processors (the ones meant for typical laptops and desktops), and re-badge them as Celeron and Pentium E-class processors. Basically, it’s a shell game. Merom (Core 2) chips are being re-badged with the Celeron and Pentium names, since Intel doesn’t have any other chip to use. The cache is cut back, and the chip is sold at a bargin price.
The good news is that Pentium and Celeron are now budget brands with great chips behind them. The bad news is that buyers are being deceived into thinking that Core 2 Duo is worlds better than Celeron chips.
Here’s how I would improve the situation. Take the old-gen (Merom) chips, and continue to market them under Celeron and Pentium. But, take the new Penryn chips and make a budget brand out of them, under Core 2 Solo.
Why does this make more sense? Because Core i7 is just starting to ship. By next year, consumers will have a clear choice; Celeron (being the reliable, budget Merom), Core 2 Duo and Solo (Penryn) for mid-range, and Core i7 (Nehalem) taking the top spot.
What to do with Celeron and Pentium, after that? I say ditch them. Celeron still has a stigma that drives low-end buyers to AMD… not a month (maybe not a week) goes by that I don’t hear someone in a store complaining about their Pentium II-era Celeron system. Pentium lost its charm with the NetBurst era, which lasted far too long and gave AMD the lead.
Intel has shown that a good chip, makes a good brand. Intel should take advantage of that.