Intel has launched its strongest processor line-up in years as it repositions itself as the performance leader.
The arrival of the Core 2 Duo series of desktop and notebook processors heralds Intel’s return to the top of the chip performance charts, which in recent years has been dominated by AMD. There are five desktop and five notebook processors – formerly codenamed Conroe and Merom – which boast a high performance leap over previous chips, as well as a significant reduction in power consumption.
The Conroe processors promise a 40 per cent increase in performance and a 40 per cent reduction in power consumption, compared with Intel’s previous best processor.
Early tests indicate that they outperform AMD’s best offerings. Intel said that for many independent reviews carried out in recent weeks, the processors win more than nine out of 10 server, desktop PC and gaming PC performance benchmarks.
Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, claimed: “The Core 2 Duo processors are simply the best in the world. Not since we introduced the Pentium processor has the industry seen the heart of the computer reinvented like this. The Core 2 Duo desktop processor is an energy-efficient marvel. It packs in 291 million transistors, yet consumes 40 per cent less power than previous processors.”
The Core 2 Duo processors are built using Intel’s 65 nanometre silicon process technology. The firm is ramping these chips faster than all previous processors, including Pentium and Core Duo, the first generation of dual core chips. More than 550 systems based on Core 2
Duo are currently underway by PC builders. Otellini claimed that Intel will sell one million chips within seven weeks. It took a year to hit the same sales figures with Pentium.
Roger Kay, president of market research firm Endpoint Technologies, said: “Conroe will make Intel competitive. The company was already doing pretty well on the mobile side, and Merom will help it consolidate that position, but Intel needed big improvements in desktop processors to retake the front rank.
“AMD is not standing still, but the rest of 2006 will witness a much more competitive market than existed last year during the same period.”
The desktop series come with clock speeds ranging from 1.86GHz for the entry-level E6300, to 2.93GHz for the high-end Core 2 Extreme X6800. Level 2 cache ranges from 2MB to 4MB, and all Conroes have a 1066MHz front-side bus (FSB). Prices range from $183 to $999. On the mobile front, the Merom chips run at 1.66GHz to 2.33GHz, with Level 2 cache ranging from 2MB to 4MB, and all processors sport a 667MHz FSB. Prices have not yet been released.
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