IBM unveiled a 300 MHz, sub-$1K computer in August that is one of the first machines to take advantage of Intel’s improved Celeron chip. The improved chip is likely to inspire a wave of faster, more powerful low-end computers, analysts predicted.

The IBM PC 300GL is a network-ready, highly manageable computer with 32 or 64 MB of RAM (expandable to 256 MB), a 3.2 or 6.4 gigabyte hard drive, and 128 KB of cache. Thanks to Intel’s next-generation Celeron processor–a less expensive alternative to the Pentium chip–the 300GL retails for $989 (without monitor), with special pricing available to schools.

Intel’s original Celeron chip, which the company launched earlier this year, had been received poorly by PC makers because it didn’t perform as well as similarly priced chips from rivals Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Cyrix. But Intel said its new Celeron processor, which the company released August 24, delivers a 25 percent improvement in performance over the earlier version.

With its improved Celeron chip, Intel hopes to make inroads into the lower end of the chip market, a market driven to this point by smaller companies like AMD and National Semiconductor Corp.’s Cyrix.