Intel has released several new mid-range processors all based on its 45nm process technology from both the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad lines. PC gaming vendors are expected to manufacture new systems based on these processors shortly.
At the head of the pack is the Core 2 Quad Q9650, which uses a 9x multiplier for a core clock of 3.0GHz on a 1333 MHz FSB and has 12 MB of L2 cache. The chip has a Thermal Design Power of 95W and is based on the new E0 stepping compared to the Core 2 Quad Q9550, which is based on the C1 stepping. Intel reports the official pricing at $530. The Core 2 Quad Q9400 is easier on the wallet. This processor has an 8x multiplier for a frequency of 2.66 GHz on a 1333 MHz FSB, but will be limited to a 6MB Level 2 cache. The Q9400 is based on the R0 stepping which replaces the older M1 stepping used on the Q9300. As with the Q9650, the Q9400 has a 95W TDP. The official price of this CPU is $266.
Intel has not left its dual core lineup out in the cold either, with the release of the Core 2 Duo E8600. The Core 2 Duo E8600 uses a 10x multiplier on a 1333 MHz FSB to attain an impressive stock clock speed of 3.33 GHz, making it the fastest Core 2 Duo on the market. The E8600 has 6MB of L2 cache and is based on the E0 stepping, which replaces the C0 stepping of previous E8000 series chips. It also maintains a TDP of 65W. Intel prices this chip at $266 as with the Q9400.
Finally, the Core 2 Duo E7300 brings up the rear with a 10x multiplier on a 1066 MHz FSB, giving it a clock speed of 2.66 GHz with 3MB L2 cache. Unlike all of the other CPUs in this new lineup, the E7300 does not introduce a new stepping, but is based on the M0 stepping just like the E7200. It also has the same 65W TDP. The official price of the E7300 at release is an attractive $133.
As a bit of icing on the cake, Intel has announced cuts to official prices on both the Core 2 Quad Q9550 and the Xeon X3360, which will both be reduced from $530 to a far more affordable $316.
Intel’s new Core i7 (the official name for the microarchitechture Nehalem) is just around the corner, but for those of you who intend to cling to your LGA775 systems, these new chips will provide a decent upgrade to tide you over until Core i7, as well as compatible motherboards and DDR3 RAM, reach affordable prices for the majority of people.