Intel Revs Up Quad-Core Chip for Gaming Speed Demons

Intel is ramping up its long line of Core 2 quad-core range with a new chip designed for gamers, design professionals and computer aficionados.

Running at 2.93 GHz, the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 is currently the firm’s fastest processor for desktop systems, the company said.

The new product — the 12th quad-core model chip from Intel — is built on Intel’s 65 nanometer process, comes with an 8 MB memory cache and supports a 1066 MHz front-side bus speed. The chip costs US$1,199.

This latest quad-core offering is 65 percent faster than the older-generation dual-core X6800 processor, according to the company.

Closing the Performance Gap

Intel has been developing the new chip to close a performance gap with chip rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which is expected to release a quad-core answer to Intel later this year, Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“Now, Intel is getting a little bit ahead of the curve with this chip,” Enderle noted. “These two [companies] are continually leapfrogging each other in terms of performance.”

Gamers Want Speed

Intel developed the new chip with gamers in mind, and worked with game developers to improve performance of the QX6800 in video games and othet entertainment products running on its multiple-core processors.

Although the price tag is several hundred dollars above the cost of the average desktop PC, Intel is expecting gamers and digital design professionals among others won’t mind paying the steep price.

“They really have pushed the edge of performance for a relatively small market,” Enderle said. “The high-performance chips are appropriate for about a fraction of one percent of the chip market.”

The two rival chipmakers are fighting to lead in this small high-performance market — a desire that stems more from the reputation to be earned then from revenue to be generated.

“It is really for bragging rights,” Enderle said.

Last year, AMD outsold Intel in dual-core chips, taking a segment of the market directly from the larger Intel. In response, Intel has become dominant again through a series of price cuts and increased product development.

AMD’s next chip will have four individual cores on one chip, although it is uncertain what it will do for performance. Intel’s product line has two duo-core chips.

The AMD chip will be released with the “Barcelona” Opteron server chip.

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