Intel is back: Core 2 Duo launches

Santa Clara (CA) - In a confusing series of events, Intel today introduced its much anticipated Core 2 Duo processor. First, it wasn't so certain until recently that the desktop and mobile CPU would launch simultaneously; then, we saw different release dates around the globe with numerous publications breaking embargo dates; in the end, Intel broke its own embargo and released the processor in the US a few hours early.

Intel referred in the past to the upcoming Core 2 Duo launch sometimes as "monumental" and sometimes such huge product launches can be confusing, even to such experienced marketing giants as Intel and the technology press. Until very recently, we received conflicting messages from within Intel which products are actually scheduled to launch and which not. There was never a question that Conroe, the desktop version Core 2 Duo E-series, would be introduced today, but Merom, the mobile Core 2 Duo T-series, apparently has been a last minute decision. Roadmap documents seen by TG Daily clearly indicated that Merom may have been planned to launch about four weeks after Conroe.

Even system builders in Taiwan told TG Daily and Tom's Hardware earlier today that they had no idea that Merom would launch today. Take this as a hint how available Merom will be in the next few weeks.

Intel decided to go with different launch dates around the globe, which upset the US Press, which has been "under embargo" until 11:30 AM PST. Some major publications disregarded that embargo since the news was anyway out in Asia and Europe - which apparently put Intel under pressure to release the Core 2 Duo news early. Instead of 11:30 AM PST, the embargo was lifted from the news at around 9:15 am PST.

Leaving all that aside, the real news of the day is that Core 2 Duo processor is formally introduced. Intel puts high hopes in the processor and expects that the chip will regain processor technology leadership from AMD in the desktop space and lay foundation for the firm's CPU's through 2009. There are ten new processors - five desktop and five mobile CPUs. The desktop series, formally code-named "Conroe" is called the Core 2 Duo "E"-series; the mobile "Merom" core is designated the T-series. The different letters indicate different levels of power consumption - "E" is used for desktop processors with a thermal design power of 50 watts and more (Core 2 Duo processors are rated at 65 watts, the Core 2 Extreme CPU at 75 watts); "T" is used for processors between 25 and 49 watts.

Core 2 Duo die (Conroe)

Conroe debuts with clock speeds ranging from 1.86 GHz in the E6300 model to 2.93 GHz in the Core 2 Extreme X6800. The entry-level models E6300 and E6400 (2.13 GHz) integrate a 2 MB L2 cache; all other models have 4 MB. All Conroes run with a 1066 MHz FSB. The least expensive Core 2 Duo ticket carries a $183 price tag (E6300) and reaches up to $533 for the 2.66 GHz E6700 on the upper end of the mainstream portfolio. The Core 2 Extreme X6800 will sell for a tray price of $999. Intel expects first Core 2 Duo desktop computers to be available in the beginning of August.

Merom, which served as the technology foundation for Conroe, comes in speeds from 1.66 GHz to 2.33 GHz. Entry-level 1.66 GHz and 1.83 GHz models are equipped with 2 MB of L2 cache. The 2.00 GHz, 2.16 GHz and 2.33 GHz come with the full 4 MB. All Merom processors are based on FSB667. Pricing has not been announced, but sources told TG Daily that Merom will cost $241 in the 1.83 GHz version, $294 as 2.00 GHz model, $423 as 2.16 GHz model and a wallet-flattening $637 for the 2.33 GHz chip. Intel claims that initial Merom notebooks will be available at the end of August.

Intel will ramp Conroe and Merom as quickly as it can. Documents seen by TG Daily indicate that 15% of all desktop processors shipped by Intel this quarter will be Conroe processors. By the first quarter of 2007, almost 40% of the shipments will be based on the new architecture. Intel claims that more than 550 computer systems based on Core 2 Duo are "underway."

Core 2 Duo processor and 965 chipset (P,G and Q versions)

"The Core 2 Duo processors are simply the best processors in the world," said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel in a prepared statement. "Not since Intel 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, packing 291 million transistors yet consuming 40 percent lower power, while delivering the performance needed for the applications of today and tomorrow."

In an interview published by TG Daily earlier today, Intel senior vice president said that the Core microarchitecture will reversing the current landscape in the microprocessor industry. "I think Core is changing the game," the executive said and mentioned that he believes that Intel currently has a one year lead over AMD in process technology and more experience in designing mobile systems and platforms. Perlmutter also confirmed that Core processors will be receiving a redesign in 2008.

Complete coverage:
TG Daily interviews Intel: "Core is changing the game"
Official: Intel releases Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme
Up to $16,000: Core 2 Duo computers flood the Net
The long road to Conroe
Tom's Hardware: Core 2 Duo smokes AMD's Athlon 64 X2
Intel to launch Merom, Conroe on Thursday
Four AMD dual-core prices now at or near Intel price/performance curve
Technology Background: Will Intel's Core Architecture Close the Technology Gap? (Tom's Hardware)