Intel has released a new dual-core laptop chip for high-end users in a bid to fend off AMD in the fast-growing notebook market.

Laptop makers are already buying the new Core 2 Extreme X7800 processor, and systems using it could be on store shelves in August. Intel said the X7800 boosts performance for hard-core gamers and digital artists who currently use Core Duo T2600-based laptops.

Intel is encouraging manufacturers to push even faster performance by opening the chip's speed protection locks, allowing laptop makers to overclock the processor for even faster operation. Some video game fans seek top performance by running chips beyond their rated speed limits on desktop PCs. However, overclocking is less common on laptop PCs, which are usually optimised for the longer battery life.

By concentrating on laptops, Intel is aiming at the sweet spot of the PC market. Vendors have seen sparse growth in desktop PC shipments in recent years, increasing by only single-digit percentages in 2005, 2006 and forecasts for 2007. But demand for laptops in soaring, with global notebook shipments increasing by 35.9 percent in 2005, 28.4 percent in 2006 and an estimated 25.3 percent in 2007, according to the analyst iSuppli.

In May, Intel made another effort to push sales of its mobile chips by launching its Santa Rosa bundle of mobile processors and chipsets, an upgrade to its popular Centrino platform. AMD quickly responded by announcing later that month that it would use a new mobile processor called 'Griffin' as the basis of a collection of processors and chipsets code-named Puma, expected to reach markets in the middle of 2008.

Intel now hopes to regain the initiative by expanding its Core 2 Extreme brand from high-end desktops to high-end notebooks. It’s selling the 2.6 GHz Core 2 Extreme X7800 notebook chip for $851 (£425).

Intel has also announced five new desktop chips, led by the quad-core, 3.0GHz Core 2 Extreme QX6850, intended for game developers, and the 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad Q6700. Intel is selling those two chips for $999 (£500) and $530 (£265), respectively, priced in 1,000-unit quantities.

Intel's new dual-core chips are all in the Core 2 Duo family, including the 3.0GHz E6850, the 2.66 GHz E6750 and the 2.33 GHz E6550. The company is shipping all the chips now, and expects vendors to bring them to markets in two weeks.



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