With the release of the Intel-based desktop March 25, HP joins Dell and Gateway, which were two of the first PC makers to offer the Core i7 chips in new PCs. The fact that HP, which remains the world's largest PC maker despite the recession, is using Nehalem chips is a favorable sign for Intel as it looks to build up its latest line of processors.
The HP Pavilion Elite m9600 desktop comes as Intel is preparing to release a new set of Nehalem-based processors for server systems. While Intel has not set a specific date, Lenovo and Dell are already promising these Nehalem-based processors in new workstations and Rackable Systems plans to use Nehalem chips in its updated cloud computer cabinet offering.
While this HP Pavilion desktop is clearly geared toward consumers and PC enthusiasts, it does show that the Intel Core i7 is likely to make it into more mainstream desktops and notebooks within a short amount of time. The fact that HP managed to keep the starting price under $1,000 also shows that Intel and its PC partners are looking to bring the chip into the mainstream PC market for both consumer and commercial use.
The major impact the economy has had on the PC market also means companies such as HP and Dell might continue to cut prices in order to preserve market share and reduce inventory.
The HP Elite m9600 desktop, now officially available through the HP Web site and with a larger sales rollout scheduled for April 13, uses the Intel Core i7-940 processor, running at 2.93GHz. This is one of three Core i7 chips Intel introduced in November.
All of the Core i7 chips are built on Intel's 45-nanometer manufacturing process. Each processor has four processing cores, with each core supporting two instructional threads, and all four cores share 8MB of Level 3 cache.
In addition to the Core i7 processor, the HP desktop offers newer DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory, and HP is offering between 3GB and 12GB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) and between 500GB and 1TB of data storage with the new desktop using a SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk drive. HP also allows for RAID configurations with the HDDs.
In terms of graphics, HP offers a choice of a pair of Nvidia GeForce GPUs: the GeForce 9600GS and the 9800GT. In addition, the desktop can support an ATI Radeon HD graphics card.
Finally, the HP Pavilion Elite m9600 desktop supports the 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate. HP is offering a starting price of $949 for this desktop, but that limits users to a 500GB HDD and the Nvidia GeForce 9600GS graphics card.