Intel Eyes Quad-Cores in Q4

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-08-29 Print this article Print

Updated: Quads for the holidays? Intel's first quad-core desktop processor is expected to arrive in November.

High-end desktop PCs will sport quad-core processors from Intel as the fourth quarter gets under way.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company, which pulled forward the launch of its "Kentsfield" quad-core desktop chip from the first quarter of 2007 into the fourth quarter of 2006, is still several months from launching the chip.

However, it's now expected to introduce the quad-core processor as part of its Core Extreme family in early November, sources familiar with its plans said.

The Core Extreme, which is targeted mainly at PC enthusiasts who are into gaming as well as certain corporate users whose jobs involve creating online content or editing videos, represents the pinnacle of Intel's desktops processor line.

Right now, the chip maker offers a dual-core Core 2 Extreme chip, based on its Core 2 Duo for desktops.

The quad-core Core Extreme chip, capable of executing four threads simultaneously, will use the same basic circuitry and will also serve the very high-end of the desktop market.

Intel, for its part, is looking to the Core 2 Duo and Core Extreme processor family to increase its competitiveness versus rival Advanced Micro Devices and to gain back market share following a string of lackluster quarterly financial performances.

Although the quad-core Core Extreme is likely to come in a somewhat limited number of desktop models, the chip along with efforts by Advanced Micro Devices—AMD's 4x4 platform will install two dual-core CPUs into a high-end desktop—and graphics card makers will contribute to an ongoing renaissance in the high-end desktop market.

Even as notebooks continue to gain in popularity and dual-core desktops have fallen in price, high-end desktops aimed at enthusiasts are gaining a greater capabilities, analysts said.

"We're seeing a sort of renewal of the high-end of the PC market," said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

Although he had no specific knowledge of the Core Extreme launch, McCarron said that after a time in which few desktops eclipsed the $2,000 mark, it's now possible to find high-end, $3,500 to $4,000 PCs begin offered as standard systems.

"There definitely seems to be a resurgence there," he said.

Part of the turn of events has to do with hardware performance. Desktops equipped with multicore processors and dual graphics boards are upping the ante, there.

But software, such as multi-threaded games and content creation applications, has also begun to catch up, industry watchers said.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Intel Eyes Quad-Cores in Q4

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET News.com, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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