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In order to further solidify its positions of the market of high-performance microprocessors and popularize quad-core chips, Intel Corp. will sell its highly-anticipated central processing units (CPUs) with four processing engines at significantly lower price-points than it so far has been expected.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor, which is expected to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in several days, will cost $531 in 1000-unit quantities, not $850 as previously anticipated, several media reports claim. Its price point will make the quad-core processor just $1 more expensive compared to the current price of Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 chip, which has a bit higher clock-speed.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 chip is expected to run at 2.40GHz, come with 8MB L2 cache and use 1066MHz processor system bus (PSB). The Core 2 Duo E6700 processor operates at 2.66GHz, contains 4MB of unified level-two cache and uses 1066MHz PSB. While the Core 2 Duo 6700 operates at higher clock-speed and will be slightly faster in applications that take advantage of two cores (or rely on one core only), the Core 2 Quad Q6600 is likely to be more efficient in future applications.

In fact, the price-point and similarity of specifications are likely to catalyze more computer makers and end-users to choose the CPU with four cores instead of a chip with two cores, which will further encourage software makers to tweak their software for multi-core processors.

In addition to price reduction of the Core 2 Quad Q6600, Intel will also release another quad-core product based on code-named Kentsfield design in Q3 2007. The chip which is expected to be called Core 2 Quad Q6400 is likely to operate at the speed of 2.13GHz, accommodate 8MB of L2 cache in total and use 1066MHz PSB. The chip will be fit into more mainstream price-points.

Still, the popularization of quad-core chips does not mean that Intel will cease to improve its dual-core microprocessors. Intel is projected to release Intel Core 2 Duo processors with E6850, E6750 and E6650 model numbers with 3.0GHz, 2.66GHz and 2.33GHz clock-speeds respectively and 1333MHz processor system bus in Q3 2007, when appropriate code-named Bearlake-series chipsets become available. The new chips will support TXT technology.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

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