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Date set for phase 2 of Intel's Core launch

Chipmaker plans to unveil Conroe, also known as the Core 2 Duo, on July 27 during an event at its headquarters.

Intel has set the date for the introduction of its next-generation PC chip as it moves forward through one crazy summer.

The Core 2 Duo will be unveiled at an event scheduled for July 27 at Intel's headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., a company spokesman confirmed Tuesday. Intel CEO Paul Otellini and other executives will be on hand to unveil the chip that marks the end of Intel's Pentium era.

After a six-year run, Intel's Netburst class of processors is on its way out in favor of the new Core chips. The latest chip, the dual-core Pentium D, was fine for many people's needs. But gamers and high-end PC users preferred the performance of Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon 64 X2 chips, and low-end buyers developed a growing interest in AMD's inexpensive chips at the other end of the performance scale. The combination allowed AMD to take the lead among retail PC buyers at points during the last year, although Intel recently regained that mantle.

The Core 2 Duo chips will deliver better performance with lower power consumption than the Pentium D chips, Intel has promised. This Thursday, Intel will release reviewers from their nondisclosure agreements and allow them to publish benchmark results that compare the Core 2 Duo and AMD's desktop chips. Earlier this year, Intel said that it expects its Core family of processors to deliver around 20 percent better performance than AMD's chips in the second half of this year.

The desktop version of the Core 2 Duo, formerly code-named Conroe, will be the focus of the July 27 event. A notebook version, known as Merom, will follow in August. Last month, Intel introduced its Xeon 5100 processor, the server version of the Core architecture family of chips.

"With (Microsoft's Windows) Vista pushed out until 2007, this is a big one for Intel and the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)," said Bill Kircos, an Intel spokesman, referring to PC companies such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Some analysts have expressed concern about the lack of incentives for PC buyers in the second half of the year after Microsoft delayed Vista yet again. Intel's technology is expected to now be the focus of holiday season marketing efforts.

Intel also confirmed Tuesday that Montecito, its first dual-core Itanium processor, will launch on July 18, as reported last week.