Overclocking Celeron chips a hit with Net speed demons
Intel's low-priced Celeron microprocessors are receiving rave reviews from hobbyists who claim that with a bit of fiddling, the 266 MHz version can be pumped up to run at 448 MHz.
Web sites that feature accounts of Celeron overclocking - the process where chips are tampered with to run above marked clock speeds - have proliferated in recent months as Net users share chip-altering accomplishments and offer tips to budding overclockers.
Intel's top-line Pentium II chips previously were the favourite candidates for overclocking, but Celeron models have become the new darling due to their lower prices.
Intel advises against chip overclocking as it voids the warranty and can cause damage to computers.
The Celeron is 'very easy to overclock safely', claims Jason, who has a comprehensive Web page [www.bunt. com/~jcoon/celeron/celeron. htm] dedicated to Celeron overclocking.
He claims to have overclocked his 266 MHz Celeron to 448 MHz, and offers step-by-step instructions on how to do the same.
German Tom Pabst, considered by some to be the 'guru' of overclocking, says in his Web site [www.tom shardware.com] that 'Celeron is the number one overclocking CPU [central processing unit]' because it lacks Level 2 (L2) cache, a temporary memory stored on the chip that speeds up the rate of data exchange between the processor and the main memory.
The L2 memory cache found on Pentium II chips often hampered overclocking attempts, Mr Pabst said.
He warned that Celeron's mounting brackets did not fit into certain types of motherboards which was, he believed, Intel's attempt to curb overclocking.
Some overclockers speed up chips and resell them illegally on the grey market, making a profit on the difference between the market price of the original speed and the new speed obtained by tampering.
Web pages and messages posted by some overclockers have reported incidences where they have found 'clock-locked' Celerons where the internal clock multiplier - which helps to set the processor's speed - cannot be altered.
Some hobbyists recommend instead to overclock the bus speed, and give advice on how to overcome any bus speeds that may be clock-locked - a relatively simple task requiring a strategically placed piece of tape.
Other Web sites for overclockers include the Celeron-dedicated http://pages.infi nit.net/maze/cele/celeron. htm by Beniot Jobin, who claims to hold an electrical engineering degree; www. cpusite.demon.nl/overclock ing/overclock.html which focuses mostly on Celeron; and http://come.to/overclock which has Celeron sections.
A few companies, such as Laser Computer, have even come out with motherboards equipped to handle overclocked chips.
Overclocking requires at least a couple of hours' hands-on alteration to the motherboard and can cause computer instability, system crashes and even instances of melted processors, as faster chips generate more heat.
Despite the risks, overclocking apparently has become a niche hobby worldwide.
Web pages dedicated to overclocking can be found on the Net, written in several languages, including Italian, Japanese and Spanish.