Intel has formally announced its 'Merom' chip for laptops, as vendors including Alienware, Gateway and Toshiba announced models built around the processor.

Intel will use the chip to upgrade its keystone Centrino package of power-efficient, wireless-enabled technologies for laptop PCs, a bundle that combines the main CPU (central processing unit) with a mobile chipset and wireless card.

Merom is the third launch in recent months from Intel's new line of dual-core, 65nm (nanometre) process chips built with the Core 2 Duo architecture. The company launched its 'Woodcrest' Xeon 5100 chip for servers in June and its 'Conroe' Core 2 Duo chip for desktops in July.

A laptop running the Core 2 Duo chip instead of Pentium M will offer twice the CPU performance while drawing 28 percent less electricity from the battery, said Dadi Perlmutter, senior vice-president of Intel's mobility group.

Intel hopes the new Merom chip family will help stem its leak of market share to rival AMD's dual-core Turion 64 X2 processor.

In worldwide sales of mobile processors, Intel has watched its market share drop from 87.6 percent in the first quarter of 2005 to 86 percent in Q1 2006, according to Gartner. The fall has been steeper in the US, where Intel tumbled from 81 percent share during the month of June 2005 to 66 percent in June 2006, according to Current Analysis.

Since Intel began shipping the new Core 2 Duo chip to vendors last month, computer makers have come up with 200 notebook designs that specify the chip, including its placement in Intel's Viiv bundle for entertainment PCs.

Indeed, the Core 2 Duo chip will offer users improved multitasking power, media capabilities and battery life, said Alienware, which will use the chip in three of its high-end gaming and media laptops.