Vendors prepare to ship PCs with new Intel chip

PC vendors scrambled to launch new desktop and workstation PCs on Thursday following Intel Corp.'s launch of its "Conroe" Core 2 Duo processor.

PC vendors announced new desktop and workstation PCs following Intel's launch of its "Conroe" Core 2 Duo processor.

Intel plans an "extremely fast production ramp" of the new chip design, taking just seven weeks to ship 1 million chips, Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini told reporters during a press conference in California.

Intel took one year to ship that many Pentium chips, he said. The quick launch will allow vendors to ship desktops to stores by early August and notebooks by late August. A few products are already available now.

"Today's a big day for us; it's like our birthday and wedding wrapped up in one," he said, standing under a big white tent during a California heat wave. "This is the best microprocessor we've ever designed. It's our first premium brand since we introduced the Pentium 13 years ago."

The three biggest PC vendors in the U.S. -- Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Gateway -- announced they would replace Intel's Pentium D with the new chip.

The upgrade will allow users to handle digital photos and music 35 percent faster and play games 47 percent faster on desktops like the XPS 410 and Dimension 9200, according to Dell.

Dell will use the similar Core 2 Extreme chip in its Precision 390 workstation, improving graphics performance by 88 percent for computer-aided design or digital content creation.

The Precision 390 is on sale Thursday for US$1,050. The new XPS and Dimension models will be available by late August for US$1,595 and US$1,674. Dell also plans to use the mobile version of the Core 2 Duo, "Merom," in its Precision, Latitude, Inspiron and XPS notebook lines by the end of August.

Likewise, HP announced it would use the Core 2 Duo to replace Pentium 4 and Pentium D chips, as it upgrades its xw4300 line to the new xw4400 workstation.

"Power users" from engineers to video editors will see both a large jump in performance and a drop in electricity needs, said Jim Zafarana, vice president of HP's workstation global business unit. The xw4400 will be available in early August for prices starting below US$1,000.

Video gamers are one of the largest markets being targeting by vendors.

Gateway will use the Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme in its FX510 desktop. The computer is available now for prices ranging from US$1,300 to US$4,200.

Other vendors selling Core 2 Duo-based computers include high-end gaming system makers Voodoo PC and Alienware, now owned by Dell.

Voodoo will sell its OMEN i:121 Extreme desktop PC, while Alienware offers the Area-51 7500 and Area-51 ALX desktops. Alienware also plans to support the Core 2 Duo mobile chip in its Area-51 m5750 and Area-51 m5550 notebooks later in the third quarter. Neither vendor has listed prices yet.

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