Intel To Showcase Dual-Core PCs


The news will come in an announcement hosted jointly by the chip giant's Digital Home group and its Digital Enterprise operation. The latter group is expected to unveil a separate PC for office users, featuring streamlined management and low-power operation, dubbed the Professional Business Platform.

Intel officials declined to provide specifics in advance of Thursday's announcement. "We're going to be talking about new platforms for both the home and the office," Kari Skoog, an Intel spokesperson, said in an interview. Skoog refused to provide further details, but added: "We have [previously] talked about how, by the end of the month, we're going to be launching our Pentium D processor."

The Pentium D is a dual-core processor Intel is aiming at desktop PCs. According to roadmaps Intel has shared with its customers, there are two Pentium D models, designated the 820 and 830. The processors have clock speeds of 2.8 GHz and 3.0 GHz, respectively, 800 MHz front-side buses, and dual L2 caches of 1 MB in capacity. They also support Intel's EM64T 64-bit instruction-set extensions.

The dual-core Pentium D devices are lower-end cousins to the 3.2 GHz Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840, a high-end, dual-core CPU, which Intel began shipping in April.

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On the office front, it's not clear what processor will appear in the Professional Business platform that Intel is expected to showcase at the event. Early reports pegged the CPU as a Pentium 4. Though that part is a single-core device, it's certainly no slouch. When combined with Intel's 915G core-logic chipset, the Pentium 4 creates a potent PC platform with a host of high-end features. These include Intel's PCI Express fast I/O technology, high-definition audio, and integrated security features.

Also remaining to be seen is the list of OEMs, which will join Intel at the Thursday event. Dell is expected to be there, though Dell officials declined to specify whether they'd be joining Intel on the office PC or the digital-home front. "Dell declines to discuss unannounced products, but we continue to be committed to the digital home," said Dell spokesman Liem Nguyen, in an e-mail interview. "We see the PC as the ideal device to manage customers consumer electronics and digital content. We'll continue to focus on offering products that enable customers to easily manage and enjoy their photos, music, videos, and information."

Though Intel hasn't talked publicly about its Digital Home initiative in recent months, the company has worked hard to build support among OEMs. Digital Home is a broad technical and marketing push, by which Intel hopes to popularize the notion of entertainment PCs in consumers' living rooms. These will be used to listen to MP3 audio files, watch movies and download digital content.

Similarly oriented "media PCs" have been marketed for years by the likes of Hewlett-Packard and others, with middling success, and Microsoft has recently pushed a media center version of Windows. Intel is hoping it will be able to build a groundswell where others have failed.

According to an executive at a major computer distributor, awareness of the platform may be on the rise. "We see this business continuing to grow with more inquiries and system builders experimenting with entertainment PCs, " said Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing at D&H Distributing, in Harrisburg, Penn. "We have accounts like Computer Connection and JK Computing that have actually created digital showrooms, with D&H's and Intel's help, to drive end-user awareness and demand. "