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RealTime IT News

Intel Moving Millions

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -– Intel herded over 500 press, analysts and customers into an air-conditioned tent at its headquarters here for a splashy rollout of its Core 2 Duo line.

The event marked the formal launch of five versions each of Core 2 Duo for the desktop and mobile markets.

The last time Intel chose to launch a processor at its headquarters was 13 years ago for its best-selling Pentium. "I think it's a good omen," said Intel CEO Paul Otellini.

Back then it took a full year before Intel  shipped a million of the now ubiquitous Pentium processors.

Now Otellini said Intel will ship a million Core 2 Duos in fewer than seven weeks. Intel also has a lot more help to reach such heady numbers with over 550 design wins, the most ever for one of its new processors at launch.

"This is the best microprocessor we've ever designed," said Otellini, who noted Intel has essentially refreshed its entire product line this summer with today's announcement and the earlier release of new server families.

The "Conroe" desktop version of Core 2 Duo is available in desktops starting today. The "Merom" mobile version will be in systems for sale by the end of August.

"The biggest takeaway from this is that Intel now has a single architecture for its major platforms: desktop, mobile and servers," Bob O'Donnell, vice president at research firm IDC, told internetnews.com.

"This lets them make improvements across the board in a more timely manner."

Core 2 Duo represents a major performance boost from the current Pentium 4 generation.

Intel said the desktop Core 2 Duo offers as much as a 40 percent improvement in performance and an equal percentage of energy savings.

On the mobile side, Core 2 Duo offers as much as a 20 percent performance boost with the same power overhead.

Analyst O'Donnell noted that Intel has now eclipsed AMD  in performance, but the far bigger jump is how much it's improved on its own Pentium line.

"This was also a very fast ramp up. When Intel went from Pentium to Pentium II and Pentium III, that was at least an 18 month cyle," said O'Donnell.

"It's only been about six months since Core Duo came out."

Analyst Nathan Brookwood said it's not surprising Intel has finally jumped ahead of pesky competitor AMD.

"AMD's architecture has been out there for about three years. I don't see AMD responding in a major way until next year, and then we'll see.

"But at least AMD's in the game and the performance race is likely to go back and forth. For a long time, AMD couldn't really compete."

Intel is positioning Core 2 Duo as a premium, top of the line processor with prices in quantity ranging from just under $200 for mainstream desktops to as much as $900 for the Core Two Extreme.

Not to be left out of today's launch were the gamers.

Normally straight-laced Intel welcomed two professional gamers from the Frag Dolls onstage to show off the fast response time Core 2 Duo systems offer gamers.

Then nVidia shared the stage to preview some upcoming video games that take advantage of Core 2 Duo and nVidia's graphics card.

"We're now able to offer film quality graphics in real time," said Daniel Vivoli, senior vice president of marketing for nVidia.

Intel would not confirm or deny rumors that it uninvited graphics chip maker ATI from the event following AMD's announcement earlier this week that it planned to buy ATI. In response to a question about an ATI ban, Intel vice president Sean Maloney pointed to the exhibit area and said: "There are five ATI systems out there."

Except that computer makers exhibited those systems; ATI did not directly participate.

Computer superstore Micro Center held an event at one of its locations nearby following Intel's rollout to show off a house brand system based on Core 2 Duo.

The PowerSpec Extreme 9800 is a a $4,500 high end gaming system. The system includes two ATI Radeon X1900 XTX graphics cards, each with 512MB of GDDR3 dedicated video memory.