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Intel Corp., the world’s largest x86 chipmaker, may have canned its next speed bin of Core 2 Extreme dual-core processor in favour of lower clock-speed quad-core central processing unit.

Intel’s first quad-core microprocessor for desktops is projected to emerge in Q4 2006, a quarter earlier than expected originally, operate at 2.66GHz, use 1066MHz processor system bus and be positioned as Intel’s top-of-the-range offering for gamers and enthusiasts, reports HKEPC web-site, which claims that it had seen the latest roadmaps from Intel Corp.

The new processor will cost $999 in 1000-unit quantities and is likely to substitute the already announced officially 3.20GHz Core 2 Extreme chip with two processing engines. Even though the reasons behind such move are unclear, the transition of “extreme” processor to a multi-core design should emphasize the company’s plan to shift the attention of end-users to the number of cores, not clock-speed.

Given that not all applications can benefit from more than two threads processed at once, the 2.66GHz quad-core microprocessor may offer lower performance in certain applications compared to the 2.93GHz dual-core Intel Core 2 Extreme product.

Earlier it was reported that Kentsfield is a code-name for next-generation “extreme” desktop processor from Intel, will have four processing engines, in contrast to two cores sported by the Core 2 Extreme chips. It is highly likely that Kentsfield features two Conroe chips on the same piece of substrate. Provided that every Conroe chip features two processing engines, the Kentsfield will have four cores, 4MB or 8MB level-two (L2) cache, 1066MHz processor system bus and other characteristics similar to Conroe.

Intel Kentsfield is expected to be drop-in compatible with some of the Intel 975X-based infrastructure that supports Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors.

Intel did not comment on the new-story.

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