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Monday, January 19, 2009, 03:55 pm PT (06:55 pm ET)

Possible iMac quad-core CPUs; Mac clone maker blocked; more

Intel has formally unveiled a new set of efficient Core 2 Quad processors that may form the linchpin of Apple's next iMacs. Also, would-be Mac clone developer EFI-X USA is being denied the parts it counts on to build its PCs, and T-Mobile Austria has started a round of heavy discounts for iPhone 3G.

Intel rolls out low-power desktop quad-core chips

Fulfilling at least some of the claims made in a Taiwanese rumor from November, Intel on Monday said it has launched a round of low-power Core 2 Quad processors.

The new components at 2.33GHz, 2.66GHz and 2.83GHz all consume just 65W of energy at their thermal limits compared to the 95W of past models at the same clock speed, all without losing features or the amount of onboard cache. These are meant for "sleek and cool" desktops, Intel says.

In bulk quantities, they should cost $245, $320 and $369 each, or tangibly less than Intel's notebook-oriented equivalents — which, at their best, clock in at 2.53GHz and cost $1,038 per chip at that speed.

While it's not definite whether Apple is interested in the parts, the characteristics and pricing line up with those mentioned in Taiwan newspaper reports insisting that Apple is a customer. Simultaneously, other reports from the region have maintained that a new iMac is due in January with a new cooling module many now believe is there to manage the heat generated by an energy-hungry desktop processor.

Apple itself has done little to support these claims itself but is known to be making a significant platform change that brings in NVIDIA chipsets to control the system and provide integrated graphics.

EFI-X manufacturer breaks off ties with EFI-X USA

Attempts to introduce yet another unofficial Mac clone builder to the US market have seemingly been cut short with word that Art Studios Entertaintment Media (ASEM), which makes the EFI-X USB dongle used to bypass Apple's Mac OS X install checks and use the software on generic computers, has kicked out EFI-X USA as its American partner for selling the devices.

Company head Davide Rutigliano explains to the Inquirer that marketing from the US firm has clearly and against ASEM's wishes been promoting its EFI-X-equipped Millennium PCs as Mac clones, which overtly violates Apple's licensing for its operating system. As revealed first to AppleInsider, EFI-X USA has pitched its first product as a bargain Mac Pro that offers most of the performance of the official workstation for a much lower price.

The assembler has also frequently changed pricing for the stand-alone dongle and maintained inconsistent support for customers, Rutigliano notes.

While spokespeople from EFI-X USA are unavailable for comment as of press time, the move all but shuts down the company's original business plan.

That said, ASEM maintains its own Mac OS X hardware compatibility list and has no intentions of scaling back its US operations: a new online store, Express HD, will sell the EFI-X adapter. The dongle producer also intends to add support for hardware Apple has yet to support itself, including Intel's Core i7 processors, AMD's ATI Radeon HD 4800 series video cards and NVIDIA's competing GeForce GTX 285.

T-Mobile Austria slashes iPhone 3G 8GB price

In a first since iPhone 3G sales began this past summer, T-Mobile's Austrian division launched a discount for Apple's entry-level 8GB handset.

The deal, discovered by iLounge, reduces the price of the iPhone from its normal €99 ($131) to €1 when a customer signs up for a €45 ($60) monthly Supreme plan. It also gives the new subscriber their first month's service for free and, if the phone is ordered online, a further instant discount of €45.

Although multiple carriers have refined their service plans since the iPhone 3G launch, none have until now budged the price of the phone proper. It's not known what T-Mobile's incentives are behind the discount, which doesn't have a specified end.