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New Intel Chip Premiering On A Fast Track

Intel's chips are always getting faster. What's different about its forthcoming Conroe chips is how fast they'll be offered in business computers.

Usually, Intel rolls out a new chip to high-end computing markets before pushing into larger-volume, mainstream markets. The company plans to roll out Conroe to the mass business market in the second half of this year at the same time the chip is introduced to the high-end market. Conroe's processing speed will beat Intel's best current dual-core chips by 40%, while consuming 40% less energy.

"They brought it down to the mainstream," says Nathan Brookwood, an Insight 64 principal analyst. "And as the power of the processor increases, software developers find new ways of doing things they couldn't do in prior systems. Suddenly, it ushers in a new wave of innovation."

Intel has introduced chips in the past that, like Conroe, use dual-core processing. But the architecture of those chips didn't let them share computing tasks as efficiently as Conroe does.

Intel hopes to protect its dominance over Advanced Micro Devices in large business IT environments' multitasking machines, which often run extra applications behind main apps like Word or Excel. AMD has made recent headway in the market with faster, cooler processors. "After a couple of years of lagging way behind AMD in terms of performance," Brookwood says, "Conroe gives [Intel] the ability to gain parity and, in some cases, beat AMD." Now that Intel thinks it has an edge, it's eager to push those advantages to as many customers as it can.