Intel quad-core QX6700 reaches system builders

Chicago (IL) - Intel has begun shipping its first quad-core processor "Kentsfield," which will be officially called Core 2 Extreme QX6700 to system builders. Industry sources have confirmed to TG Daily that the processor has entered a stage of system testing, which indicates that the processors is on track for a mid-November launch.

Due to the lack of threaded games, the processor apparently will not show dramatic performance improvements in games we heard, but rather excel in typical threaded environments such as multimedia applications. The processor will ship in very limited numbers as Intel's new flagship processor and will be flanked by the DP workstation and volume server processor "Clovertown," which will be released as Xeon 5300 series in November. First mainstream quad-core processors are expected to launch as Core 2 Quad E-series in the first quarter of next year.

Kentsfield will ship with 8 MB of L2 cache and a clock speed of 2.67 GHz to keep the processor within a 110 watt power envelope - up from 65 watts of the dual-core Core 2 Duo E6700 with the identical clock speed. Since Kentsfield will be aimed exclusively at the enthusiast segment initially, we expect performance and boutique PC builders to offer overclocked versions of the processor right away. A recent benchmark series of the processor conducted by Tom's Hardware Guide revealed that the processor runs stable at 3.33 GHz and, at that level, offers about twice the performance of a Netburst-based Pentium EE 965 processor, while running in a similar power range. However, an idle 3.33 GHz Kentsfield consumes about as much power as a Core 2 Duo under full load, Tom's Hardware said.

In the meantime, there is very little information available about AMD's 4x4 platform, which will counter Kentsfield with two dual-core Athlon 64 FX processors on one motherboard. However, there is no indication that AMD's contender will be late and launch in time for the Christmas season. There may be enough reason for enthusiasts to consider two dual-cores instead of one quad-core. The limited number of quad-cores is almost a guarantee that etail prices of the chip will climb well above the tray price of $1000. Prices of 4x4 have not been discussed by AMD so far, but industry sources suggest that package deals with two FX processors will debut in the $800 to $900 range.

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