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Intel Corp. Monday said it had completed initial production runs of dual-core processors and reiterated its plans to bring dual-core microprocessors for desktop markets in the second quarter. The company said that in addition to mainstream desktop dual-core chips it would bring dual-core Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor for PC computing and entertainment enthusiasts.

Intel Officially Sets Dual-Core Deadline

“Intel plans to deliver two separate dual-core products and dual-core-enabled chipsets for its Pentium processor-class families in the second quarter, including the Pentium processor Extreme Edition. The Intel Pentium processor Extreme Edition will include Hyper-Threading Technology, providing the ability to process four software “threads” simultaneously,” the company said in its statement.

Intel’s mainstream dual-core chips for desktops originally code-named Smithfield are projected to be branded as Intel Pentium 4 processors 800-series, some sources suggest. Initial Intel Pentium 800-series central processing units are likely to use 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus, integrate 2MB (1MB per core) L2 cache and utilize LGA775 form-factor. The dual-core desktop processor internally called Smithfield will be made using 90nm process technology, each processing engine will use the same architecture with the current Pentium 4 “Prescott” chip, however, the new central processing unit will feature “arbitration logic that will balance bus transactions between the two CPUs”. Smithfield’s die size is about 215 square millimeters.

Intel is expected to disable the Hyper-Threading technology on its mainstream dual-core desktop chips, leaving the capability to process up to four threads simultaneously for its Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chips that will feature two cores. All desktop dual-core chips will sport EM64T, Virtualization, XD bit as well as Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technologies.

Intel's dual-core desktop products are projected to have TDP of around 130W, while currently available infrastructure is designed to support processors with thermal design power of up to 115W, which will not allow the dual-core Pentium 4 800-series chips to operate with the vast majority of today’s mainboards, according to some makers. While some very advanced mainboards may support the Pentium 4 processors 800-series, such support is unlikely to be official. Furthermore, Intel’s i945- and i955X-series core-logic products are expected to bring certain performance enhancements, such as support for DDR2 667MHz memory.

It is expected that Intel’s dual-core desktop products will be launched along with i945- and i955X-series chipsets.

Desktop Dual-Core Chips May Give Intel Competitive Advantage Over Rival AMD

By bringing its dual-core desktop chips to the market a quarter earlier than expected the chip giant Intel Corp. receives a competitive advantage over the arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices, who is expected to bring out its dual-core desktop products only in the second half of 2005. Some sources reported that Intel’s dual-core products are claimed to be relatively affordable: $241, $316 or $530 – depending on the speed-bin and model – for 820 (2.80GHz), 830 (3.00GHz) or 840 (3.20GHz) chips respectively. Pricing of dual-core Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors is yet unclear. Typically Intel asks system designers to pay $999 for the top-of-the-range Extreme Edition chip.

Intel did not officially reveal specifications of its dual-core desktop chips, neither Smithfield, nor the Extreme Edition flavour.

Intel has more than 10 multi-core related projects underway and plans to increase its software and solutions enabling product lines, tools, investment and programs to further spur software design and validation, the company said.

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