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RealTime IT News

More Quad Core Chips From Intel

Intel is bringing quad core processors to the masses, sort of, with the introduction of more affordable Core 2 Quad processors and some low-end Xeons. Of course, "affordable" means an arm and a leg rather than all four limbs.

The company today at the Consumer Electronics Show announced the availability of the new 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q6600.

The Core 2 Extreme was aimed at hardcore gamers, who are horsepower gluttons, but the new Core 2 Quad, codenamed Kentsfield, is for performance business users, said Intel spokesman George Alfs.

"Quad is for folks for whom time is money, if they are doing a lot of digital media stuff," he told internetnews.com. "It's for people who do a lot of Photoshop or work with digital streams, the kinds of apps where people do a lot of multitasking."

However, Mike Feibus, principal analyst with TechKnowledge Strategies, thinks the 6600 isn't all that necessary an addition to the Intel line. "I think they're exploiting a perceptual advantage they have at the moment over AMD . I'm not sure it's needed. I think they're just flaunting the fact they can throw two dual cores in the package and call it quad," he told internetnews.com.

While there is a performance advantage for quad core over dual, there are diminishing returns, because all of the cores still have to go through the same memory bus, which creates a bottleneck, he added.

The Q6600 is available now at $851 for 1,000-unit quantities. That price is expected to fall into the $500 range by later this year. It slots in just below the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, launched in November, which costs more than $1,000.

Intel also announced the quad-core Xeon X3220, also at $851 per 1,000 units, and the Xeon Processor X3210 at $690. These are lower-end parts, running at 2.4Ghz and 2.13Ghz, respectively, with a 1066 front side bus and 8 MB of L2 cache.

These new Xeons are aimed at single processor, entry-level servers, like mail or file and print servers. They are meant for hardware a few steps below the workhorse Xeon 5300 and 5100.

Feibus said Intel and its arch-rival AMD are finding themselves fighting "desktop processor creep" into the low end and mainstream of the server market. "You're seeing both companies trying to combat that with the low-end Xeon and Opteron market to keep the line between desktop and server as clean as possible," he said.

With the QX6600 and Xeon 3200s, Intel now has almost 30 dual- and quad-core parts, which Feibus said might cause some problems.

"Intel is filling every little nook and cranny in the market as a defensive measure, and a possible outgrowth of that is confusion."