Core launch means plunging Pentium prices

Intel plans to slot its new Core 2 Duo chips into the high end of its product line, sending the Pentium chips down its price list.

If you're in the market for one of Intel's Pentium D processors, you might want to wait a month or two.

Intel plans to push the prices of its Pentium chips way down its pricing list when it introduces the new Core chips next month. The new Core 2 Duo chips will practically take over Intel's product list in the second half of the year, said Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman. With multiple 65-nanometer factories cranking out the new chips, this product launch promises to be much more aggressive than past ones.

Intel's pricing scheme looks a bit like a flight of stairs. The highest-performing chip is given the most expensive price at the top of the stairs, and moved down a notch as new, more powerful chips are introduced. That's still the plan for the Core 2 Duo chips, formerly known as Conroe and Merom, but Intel isn't just launching the new products into the high end of its range, Mulloy said.

The company will insert new chips into both the high-end and mainstream portions of its product line, knocking the Pentium D chips based on its Netburst architecture way down the list, Mulloy said. "The pattern is normal. What's not normal is the ability to move into the mainstream price points with the technology sooner (than usual)," he said.

Intel is looking for a serious boost from the Core 2 Duo chips to stem market share losses at the hands of Advanced Micro Devices. The Core 2 Duo chips are expected to be more powerful and less power-hungry than their Pentium cousins. But PC buyers have been able to find deals in the second quarter as Intel has been forced to unload older Pentium chips to make way for the new Core chips, according to analysts.

Woodcrest, the server version of the Core 2 Duo lineup, will be the first to arrive this month, according to the company. Conroe, the desktop version, will arrive in July, while Merom, a notebook chip, will follow in August.

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