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Intel Corp. reportedly plans to release a low-cost Core 2 Duo processor in early 2007, ahead of the launch of Core 2 Solo chips in the second quarter of next year. The new processors will provide two cores as well as the new micro-architecture, but not virtualization technology or extremely high performance.

According to several media reports, Intel will offer Core 2 Duo 4300 processor in the Q1 2007. The chip will be clocked at 1.80GHz, will use 800MHz processor system bus (PSB), will have 2MB of level-two (L2) cache shared between two cores and will be designed to fit into LGA775 socket. The new chip will lack virtualization technology, but will still retain 64-bit capability (EM64T), execute disable bit (EDB) and Intel Enhanced SpeedStep technology (EIST).

It is yet unclear, how much will the Core 2 Duo processor will cost, as it will neither belong to low-cost Celeron chips, or high-speed Core 2 Duo E6000-series microprocessors. It is known, however, that the Core 2 Duo E6300 processor (1.83GHz, 1066MHz PSB, 2MB L2 cache) costs $183, whereas the lowest-end Pentium D processor is priced at $93. Given that the Core 2 Duo E6300 significantly outperforms Intel Pentium D 945 ($163 in 1000-unit quantities), the Core 2 Duo E4300 may offer similar performance to the latter, which means that it is likely to cost below $163 when introduced.

The forthcoming Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 will challenge AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 3600+ in the market of relatively low-cost, yet high-performance central processing units. While the pricing of the latter is not completely clear, it is highly likely that by Q1 2007 it will cost around the same amount of money as the model E6300.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

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