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Intel Core 2 Quad QX6800: Four brains in one skull

Big news from the Intel Developer Forum: quad-core processors will reach your desktop as early as November 2007

It seems like barely a couple of months ago we were singing the praises of dual-core processors. The equivalent of having two separate brains in the same skull, these CPUs help computers run a lot faster without consuming much more energy.

Now, at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, Intel has upped the ante by unveiling quad-core processors -- CPUs that have four processing cores on a single physical processor, or, as we like to think of it, four brains in a single skull.

The first batch of quad-core chips will arrive before Christmas. Among them will be the Intel Xeon 5300 series server chips, and the more consumer-oriented QX6800 Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU, which is aimed at gamers, hardcore video editing folk and those with more money than sense. The technology will filter down to mainstream processors in early 2007 with the Core 2 Quad range.

The QX6800, available in November 2006, is said to be up to 70 per cent faster than the Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X6800 CPU, while the quad-core Xeon 5300 is said to be 50 per cent faster than the dual-core Intel Xeon 5100 series. You have to take these figures with a pinch of salt, but we'll post our own benchmark tests as soon as we get samples.

One thing we're not too stoked about is the fact that quad-core CPUs will not, in the first instance, appear inside laptops. While the jump from single-core to dual-core chips was a beneficial one, Intel isn't as keen on using quad-core chips in mobile devices -- apparently consumers don't need laptops that powerful and there's too much of a hit on battery life. Whatever, Intel. Moore's law says you'll be shoving quad-core laptops down our throats by this time next year.

We'll have more on quad-core and the best from the IDF soon. -RR