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Intel Core 2 Duo Launch Set For Thursday

The desktop Core 2 Duo processors, also known as "Conroe," will mark the debut of Intel's cleanest dual-core design to date. Two distinct cores communicate with each other over a front-side bus.
It's already shipping to customers, and details of its architecture have been revealed publicly, but that won't stop Intel from making a big splash out of the formal announcement of its new Core 2 Duo dual-core processor. Intel will launch the chip at a press conference at its Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters this Thursday.

In addition to touting the desktop Core 2 Duo processors, which have been hinted at regularly in recent months, Intel is expected to use the press event to unveil its "Merom" dual-core mobile processors.

The desktop Core 2 Duo processors, also known as "Conroe," will mark the debut of Intel's cleanest dual-core design to date. Intel's existing 9XX and 8XX dual-core processors use two distinct cores, which communicate with each other over a front-side bus. In contrast, Conroe will have its two cores on the same silicon die, enabling faster inter-processor communication and a shared L2 cache.



Intel will field a full line of 'Core'-based platforms. Click picture to go to companion image gallery.

Core 2 Duo is also built according to Intel's new micro-architecture, also called 'Core.' This replaces the Netburst design used on long-time Pentium chips. The Core architecture enables the processors to access memory more quickly, save power, and deliver advanced digital media features.

The basic Core 2 Duo family will consist of four processors: the E6300, E6400, E6600, and E6700. They will run at clock speeds of 1.86 GHz, 2.13 GHz, 2.40 GHz, and 2.67 GHz, respectively. The E6300 and E6400 will be equipped with a 2-MB L2 cache; the other two models will have a 4-MB L2 cache. All will have a 1,066-MHz front-side bus, and will pack 291 million transistors onto a 143 square-meter slice of silicon.

At the top of the line, a Core 2 Extreme processor is being aimed at gaming systems. It's designed the X6800 and will have a clock speed of 2.93 GHz.

At Thursday's event, Intel is expected to emphasize the arrival of its four Core 2 Duo mobile processors. The T5500, T5600, T7200, T7400, and T7600 parts will run at clock frequencies of 1.66 GHz, 1.83 GHz, 2.0 GHz, 2.16 GHz, and 2.33 GHz, respectively.

Along with the processors, Intel will unveil chipsets which will enable OEMs to rapidly take the chips to market. For the desktop Core 2 Duo, Intel will offer the P965 Express chipset, which is billed as being optimized for digital home computing and entertainment. The mobile CPUs are supported by the mobile 945 chipset family, which includes wireless LAN support.

Early reviews of Core 2 Duo have been positive, heating up the battle for dual-core supremacy between Intel and AMD. Indeed, the two vendors already appear to be looking ahead toward a quad-core war as early as 2007.

With Thursday's announcement, Intel will be continuing its aggressive rollout schedule of recent weeks. Recent announcements have included a new dual-core server chip, called Woodcrest, and a new version of Intel's high-end Itanium 2.

In addition, there's early talking circulating within the industry that the Core 2 Duo introduction could launch a round of dual-core price cutting between Intel and AMD.

To see a gallery of Core 2 Duo images and additional Intel information, click here and here.