Intel squares off with new quad-core chip

Core 2 Quad Q6600 is aimed at lower end of the market.

It's not exactly quad-core for the masses, but Intel this morning released a lower-end, non-Extreme, quad-core desktop CPU. The Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 joins the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, Intel's first quad-core desktop chip, which it released last November. The new quad-core part is very similar to the preceding Extreme chip. it's priced just $150 less, at $851. And like the Extreme QX6700, the Q6600 features 8MB of L2 cache and operates on a 1066MHz front-side bus. The Q6600 is clocked at 2.4GHz compared with the QX6700's 2.66GHz clock speed. The biggest difference between the two chips is that the more mainstream Q6600 does not feature the Extreme's easy overclocking features.

We were hoping we'd see Intel release more than one quad-core desktop chip today, but it makes sense that the company is keeping its emerging quad-core line out of the way of its highly successful dual-core Core 2 Duo series. Intel told us last night that as more software is developed to take advantage of four processing cores, we can expect to see its quad-core line expand further into the mainstream.

For you server fans, Intel also announced two new Xeon processors. The Xeon X3220 is a Bizarro Q6600 for servers, also clocked at 2.4GHz and priced at $851, and the Xeon X3210 is clocked at 2.13GHz for $690.

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