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RealTime IT News

It's Core 2 Duo Time For Intel

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The wait for Intel is over.

At an event at the company's headquarters today, it will formally unveil its Core 2 Duo family for desktop and mobile systems.

Intel started talking about its next-generation processor, codenamed Conroe, in April when it launched its vPro business brand.

The desktop chip has already been generating revenue for Intel based on pre-orders.

And numerous computer companies are expected to launch Core 2 Duo desktop computers at the event today.

Intel and some of its partners will also use the setting to preview "Merom," the mobile chip member of the Core 2 Duo family. But mobile systems based on that processor aren't expected out for another full month.

The basic details of Conroe and Intel's new architecture have been widely reported for months.

"It will be a challenge for Intel to say something interesting and new at the event," Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight64, told internetnews.com.

The news will actually be whatever the vendors on hand have to say about the Core 2 Duo systems they plan to ship.

In a pre-briefing that confirms aggressive pricing by Intel  , HP  said its new Core 2 Duo, xw4400 mini tower workstation would start at $829, about the same as the slower, more power-hungry xw4300 model it replaces.

"Conroe is a totally new architecture that includes the best features of Intel's mobile and desktop architecture," said HP product marketing manager, Sean Tucker. "The performance is phenomenal and we're seeing a significant reduction in power from the 135 watts on the Pentium D down to 65 watts for these new systems."

Reviewers and analysts have given Conroe top marks in early benchmark and product evaluation testing.

The chip is far speedier than the current Pentium line, yet uses less energy. It also outperforms competitor AMD .

But during its earnings call last week, AMD president Dirk Meyer didn't seem bothered that Intel may have the speediest desktop chip for now.

"The performance crown gets passed back and forth, and I expect that to continue," said Meyer.

He noted AMD has a super-charged version of its Athlon64 FX chip in the works aimed at the enthusiast and high-end gamer market.

Codenamed 4x4, the processor is a four-core, multi-socket platform with 2 megabytes of memory per core.

"We think our 4 x 4 will appeal to the hearts, minds and wallets of our enthusiast customers," Meyer said.

Meanwhile Dell,  which plans to roll out its first systems based on AMD processors later this year, said it will be ready to ship several different Conroe-based systems.

"What we see with Core 2 Duo is extremely exciting, because it's the first time in many years we see a major performance breakthrough with a new chip," Joe Curley, director of product marketing for Dell's XP and Dimension desktops, told internetnews.com.

Dell will offer a new Dimension 9200 system starting at $1,499, an XPS 410 system starting at $1,390 and Precision 390 workstation starting at $1,050.

These systems are all based on Core 2 Duo and designed for the home, high end home/professional and engineer/enthusiast markets respectively.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said last week that with the introduction of Conroe at the top end, Intel would be able to offer computer makers a three-tier, Good, Better, Best pricing on its family of chips.

"Core 2 Duo is the best microprocessor in the world, and we're going to ramp up as soon as possible," said Otellini. "Then we can lower Pentium to system price points not previously seen."

Dell's Curley confirmed lower prices noting Dell has already begun pricing Entry-level, Pentium-based desktop computers at below $300.