Online retailer jumpstarts Intel's Core i3 chip launch

ECost is listing an HP laptop with the new Core i3-330m running at 2.13GHz

An online retailer is taking orders for a Hewlett-Packard laptop that includes Intel's latest Core i3 processor, providing details of the chip maker's next-generation laptop processor ahead of the product's official launch.

ECost, a U.S. online store, is taking orders for an HP Pavilion dv6-2157sb laptop with the Core i3-330m processor. The processor runs at a speed of 2.13GHz, according to the listing.

The laptop is priced at US$919 and includes 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard drive, wireless networking, a 15.6-inch screen and the Windows 7 OS.

Intel last week said it would officially release the next generation of laptop and desktop processors at the Consumer Electronics Show, which will be held in Las Vegas January 7-10. The chips will be available under the Core i3, i5 and i7 brands and will offer better application and graphics performance than Intel's existing Core 2 Duo processors.

The new chips integrate the CPU and graphics processor in a single package, which could improve graphics performance while drawing less power. The graphics chips will be able to play back full 1080p high-definition video and decode Blu-ray movies.

Better performance also comes from running more threads on each core for faster task execution. A dual-core Core i3 chip, for example, will be able to run four threads simultaneously, compared with two threads on existing dual-core Core 2 Duo processors. Intel's new Turbo Boost technology, featured in the i3, can ratchet up the speed of a processor core or even shut off a core when not needed to save power.

An Intel spokesman declined to comment on the laptop listing. HP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier, a Canadian retailer, A-Power, listed the Core i3-530 chip for desktops running at 2.9GHz. That listing has been pulled off the Web site. The dual-core chip included 512KB of L2 cache and 4MB of L3 cache.

The new chips are part of Intel's Westmere architecture and will be manufactured using the latest 32-nanometer process. Intel's existing chips are made using a 45-nm process.

Westmere is based on the same micro-architecture underpinnings as existing Nehalem chips, which are made using the 45-nm process. Nehalem chips include Core i5, Core i7 desktop and Xeon 5500 server chips.

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