Intel Goes to Extreme With New Notebook Chip

Ever pushing the computing speed limit, Intel says its new Core 2 Extreme mobile dual-core processor is the world’s highest-performing notebook chip.

The company, in announcing the new processor, said there is a big demand for high-performance processors for notebooks being used by “hardcore gamers, artists and media enthusiasts.” Intel pointed out that the new chip is being released one year after the introduction of the Core microarchitecture for server, desktop and notebook processors.

“Laptops are the fastest-growing computing market segment, and there is increasing demand from those who crave the ultimate in video, gaming and design computing performance yet want the freedom and flexibility that a laptop brings,” said Mooly Eden, Intel vice president and general manager, Mobile Platforms Group.

Ready to be Overclocked

The new chip, officially named the Core 2 Extreme X7800, has both cores running at 2.6 GHz and includes power-saving features designed for laptop use. Intel said the processor, based on the Merom core, offers as much as 28 percent more performance than its previous-generation mobile processor.

Additionally, Intel has removed the bus ratio locks on the unit. This will allow overclocking by experienced enthusiasts and increases the ability of notebook manufacturers to customize their high-end products, said the company.

Intel has managed to double the performance of laptops during the past year, with the Core 2 Duo processors, while managing to keep battery life relatively long, “paving the way for the biggest change to transistor design in 40 years that will combine the company’s 45-nanometer manufacturing process and the next-generation Intel Core 2 and Intel Xeon processors,” the company said.

The Core 2 Extreme X7800, with 4 MB of L2 Advanced Smart cache an an 800 MHz Front Side Bus, is being made available to original equipment vendors at a cost of US$851. Intel said notebooks containing the new chip should be available “within the next two weeks.”

Nitro-Burning Notebooks

While the new processor may not be revolutionary, it outshines anything available from Intel competitor AMD, Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, told TechNewsWorld. “Intel is way ahead. AMD doesn’t have anything to touch this right now, not in the mobile space.”

The new chip will be popular as more people use their notebooks for gaming and other tasks requiring lots of processing power, Gold predicted. “What is interesting about this announcement is, given that so many users are now moving to notebooks as opposed to desktops, more and more users — even at the extreme end of gaming — want to have a mobile experience,” he said. “It’s hard to take a 50-pound desktop with you on the road. What Intel is counting on is the mobility factor for those folks.”

Trash the Desktop?

No existing notebook will be able to compete with, say, a $5,000 custom-built Voodoo desktop, Gold said. “But for those who are betwixt and between and need something portable — maybe a gamer going to college or a gamer who travels for business — it gives incentive to go out and buy a notebook with this higher-end capability and not have to go with a desktop.”

AMD is unlikely to just sit back and let Intel dominate the high-end notebook processor segment, Gold believes. “AMD will have to respond. The question is: How soon? Right now, Intel is on the uptick and AMD is on the downtick. It’s like a teeter-totter. Intel is clearly on the aggressive uptick right now.”

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