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Monday, July 17, 2006, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Intel may launch Merom alongside Conroe

Intel Corp. may launch its Core 2 Duo notebook chips as early as next week, a recent company roadmap has revealed.

According to a set of presentation slides obtained by the Chinese-language publication HKEPC, the world's largest chip maker may simplify its Core 2 Duo processor launch by introducing both Conroe (desktop) and Merom (notebook) variants on July 23rd.

The company's original plans called for Conroe to debut in July and Merom in August. Although Intel may now launch both chips simultaneously, Merom availability will remain targeted for August, the report states.

Based on the slides, Intel will make Merom available in five different clock speeds, each running on a 667MHz front-side bus. 2.0GHz, 2.16GHz, and 2.33GHz models will pack a 4MB Level 2 cache and retail in lots of 1000 for $294, $423 and $637 a piece, respectively.

The chips, which will succeed Intel's "Yonah" line of Core Duo processors, are expected to find their way into Apple's MacBook Pro product line before the end of the year.

Intel also plans 1.66GHz ($209) and 1.8GHz ($241) variants of Merom with 2MB of Level 2 cache, though Apple is likely to forgo the use of these chips, at least in the MacBook Pro product line.

Since Merom appears to be arriving at relatively the same price points as Yonah, its expected that Intel in September will slash the price of its Yonah processor lineup.

Apple currently employs Yonah processors in the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro and Mac mini.