Intel's rolls out Merom

Intel's rolls out Merom

Intel has been beating out a steady rhythm of big product announcements in recent months. And last week that beat went on: The company shipped Merom, the mobile entry in Intel's 64-bit Core 2 Duo processor line.

The announcement, following on the heels of the delivery in May of AMD's dual-core Turion 64-bit notebook CPUs, shows Intel coming on hard and fast to regain some of the market share it has lost. Still, with so many products flowing out of the pipeline at the same time, Intel will have to be careful not to cannibalize its own efforts.

Merom is a mobile entry in Intel's 64-bit Core 2 Duo processor line, as well as Intel's answer to the Turion CPUs. Intel's new Core 2 Duo T7200, T7400, and T7600 notebook CPUs clock in at 2GHz, 2.16GHz, and 2.33GHz, respectively, with 4GB of shared cache and the same Intel 945 Express family chip sets as the 32-bit Core Solo and Core Duos that preceded them.

Consumers will most likely see Merom sold as Centrino Duo, an adaptation of the long-running and megapopular Intel brand that bundles CPU, chip set, graphics, and wireless networking controller. And that's where the problem lies.

Centrino has been a home run for Intel in the notebook space, but the decision to throw the Centrino brand onto yet another product line is bound to have consumers and salespeople scratching their heads as they try to grasp the differences between no fewer than three different "Centrinos" on the market.

For example, Core Duo has been a surprise hit among Intel notebook OEMs, perhaps because Apple has done so well with its Core Duo MacBook Pro line. That puts Intel in the position of having two dual-core notebook CPUs that use the same chip set, with very similar claims with regard to power efficiency and performance.

That could leave consumers to choose between two flavors of Intel dual-core notebooks: Centrino Duo and Merom Centrino Duo. Centrino Duo, a 64-bit technology in a market where 32-bit software predominates, might slow adoption of the Merom Centrino Duo platform. Uptake may be even slower if Core Duo notebooks are less expensive than those built with Merom. So read those labels carefully!

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