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Report: Low-cost Intel quad-core and Nehalem chips coming

Intel reportedly is readying a low-cost quad-core processor to compete with AMD's triple-core chip. Specifications on Intel's upcoming Nehalem chip are leaking out too.

Intel is expected to bring out low-cost quad-core processors in the third quarter to compete with AMD's triple-core Phenom chip. One site is also posting specifications for upcoming Nehalem processors.

The Core 2 Quad Q8000 series will include the Q8200, which will be priced as low as $203, according to Chinese-language technology Web site HKEPC.

Tech Web site The Inquirer also cited an Intel slide with the processor.

The 45-nanometer Q8000 series will be relatively low performance and stripped down, running at a clock speed of only 2.33GHz and integrating only 4MB of cache memory.

The currently shipping Intel quad-core processor that comes closest to this is the popular Q6600, which runs at 2.4GHz and packs 8MB of cache memory. This is priced at $224. Typically, the more cache memory integrated into a processor, the better the performance.

An Intel Q8000 quad-core chip priced at $203 would still be more expensive, however, than an AMD triple-core Phenom. A triple-core Phenom processor 8750 (2.4GHz) is listed on AMD's processor pricing page at $195. The Phenom 8650 (2.3GHz) is listed at $165 and the Phenom 8450 (2.1GHz) at $145.

The price difference between a system using a Phenom and one based on a Core 2 Quad is typically even more stark at first-tier vendors like Hewlett-Packard, where it can be as much as $300. Presumably, a system with a Q8000 quad-core processor would fall below the Q6600-based system in price.

HKEPC is also posting specifications on Intel's upcoming Nehalem processor, which is based on a new architecture featuring a high-speed data transfer technology called QuickPath (PDF).

At least three Nehalem "Bloomfield" quad-core processors are slated for the fourth quarter, with speeds ranging between 2.66GHz and3.2GHz, targeted at the mainstream and high end of the market. The processors will also use a new "X58" chipset, according to the report.