Intel Seeks Mainstream Acceptance with Core 2 Chips

Intel is making a run at more mainstream customers with a plan to have Core 2 Duo desktops selling for less than $1,000 at the outset.

Intel wants its forthcoming Core 2 Duo desktop chips to be very popular.

To that end, the chip maker will aim the dual-core chips, due to start shipping in July, at desktops priced under $1,000, versus restricting them to more expensive hardware.

Although those looking for extra performance or exclusivity will be able to purchase one of Intels Core 2 Extreme chips.

The move will ostensibly allow Core 2 Duo to capture more sales by playing to mainstream business desktops and corporate workstations as well as upper midrange and high-end consumer desktops.

Collectively, the categories represent a larger number of models than high-end desktops, the usual first stop for brand-new processors.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Intels plans to streamline its business.

Intel, whose CEO Paul Otellini has made no secret of his desire to recapture market share that Intel has lost to rival Advanced Micro Devices, will deliver about half a dozen Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme chips at launch.

The chip maker credits a quick ramp of its new 65-nanometer manufacturing process, a company spokesman said, for making it possible to offer the range of chips at a price spread that makes it possible for them to fit into midrange desktops.

Normally, brand new desktop PC processors populate the upper-end of the market—where machines start at prices such as $1,200 or $1,500—and only fall into the midrange, roughly under $1,000, and lower reaches over time.

But Otellini has said Intel would price the Core 2 Duo on top of its Pentium D, indicating that Core 2 Duos for desktops will slot into its normal price range of just under $200 to just over $600.

A sub-$1,000 Core Duo system wont have all the bells and whistles of a more expensive desktop, however.

For one, the less-expensive machines are likely to rely on so-called integrated graphics or graphics processors that are part of their chipsets. Chipsets, handle the routing of data inside a PC.

However, Intel will deliver a new chip set family, dubbed the 965, to go with Core 2 Duo. The family—the first of which to be announced is a P965—will add support for 800MHz DDR2 (Double Data Rate 2 DRAM), along with new features designed to increase the quality of video playback and quiet down systems.

One model, a G965, will offer an integrated graphics processor. The P965 does not come with built-in graphics, however.

The Core 2 Duo, which is based on Intels redesigned Core Microarchitecture circuitry, will debut at clock speed peaks up to 2.66GHz, the spokesman said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Intels plans to move quickly between chip architectures.

Together, the Core 2 Duo and Q965 chip set will also form the backbone of more specialized machines, such as business machines sold under Intels new vPro brand.

The vPro platform, expected to bow in August, offers either enhanced security or more advanced manageability features made possible by adding a virtualization-driven partition that runs alongside Windows. Security or manageability software can then run inside the partition.

Intel will also attempt to appeal to corporate workstations and PC enthusiasts—PC gamers in particular—with a Core 2 Extreme.

The chip, designed to offer the highest level of performance, will start at 2.93GHz at first. Intel will bump it up to 3.2GHz by the end of 2006, the spokesman said.

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