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Thursday, August 03, 2006, 08:00 pm PT (11:00 pm ET)

Source: Apple to move quickly on Merom-based systems

Unwilling to relent in its assault on the US notebook market, Apple Computer plans to adopt Intel Corp.'s latest mobile processors at a rapid pace, AppleInsider has learned.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has seen its share of the US notebook market double to 12 percent since announcing its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro, back in January.

In the three-month period ending July 1st, Apple reported record-setting shipments of Mac systems, including nearly 800,000 notebooks — 75 percent of which the company estimated were Intel-based.

So far, the success of Apple's Intel systems has hinged on a single line of processors, the 32-bit Core Duo series formerly code-named Yonah. But in recent weeks, Intel has rolled-out far more capable chips in its 64-bit line of Core 2 Duo processors, including a mobile variant known by its code-named Merom.

The news has lead to widespread speculation over precisely when and where the new mobile chips will take their seat in Apple's product lines.

According to a source familiar with the Mac maker's plans, the company is slated to receive mass shipments of the new Merom Core 2 Duo processors by the first week of September and plans to be amongst the first PC manufacturers to introduce systems based on the new chips.

Although Intel has been shipping Core 2 Duo processors to system manufacturers since last month, it has been doing so in extremely limited quantities that have not been substantial enough to support new product launches, the source added.

Intel has said that Merom will be available in five different clock speeds, each running on a 667MHz front-side bus. Versions running at 2.0GHz, 2.16GHz, and 2.33GHz will pack a 4MB Level 2 cache and retail in lots of 1000 for $294, $423 and $637 a piece, respectively.

Intel also plans 1.66GHz ($209) and 1.8GHz ($241) variants of Merom with 2MB of Level 2 cache, though its unclear if Apple will adopt the entry level variants.