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Intel to launch Penryn mobile chips ahead of Macworld

Intel Corp. plans to formally introduce its Penryn family of next-generation mobile processors in early January, paving the way for significant upgrades to Apple Inc.'s notebook and iMac consumer desktop lines shortly thereafter.

Already in a bitter market share battle with rival AMD, Intel will reportedly up the ante again on January 6, 2008 with its new 45 nanometer Penryn-based Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme dual core processors.

The chips are rumored to make an initial appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which kicks off on January 7, with further appearances likely reserved for Macworld which begins a week later.

The world's largest chipmaker is expected to introduce five new dual core mobile chips, including four Core 2 Duo models ranging from 2.1GHz to 2.6GHz, and one Core 2 Extreme at 2.8GHz.

More specifically, entry level 2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo models will include 3MB of Level 2 cache and wholesale in lots of 1,000 for $209 and $241, respectively. Higher performance versions at 2.5GHz and 2.6GHz will each pack 6MB of Level 2 cache and sell for $316 and $530.

Each of the aforementioned Core 2 Duo models will sport a thermal design power (TDP) of 35 watts, while a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme ($851), also with 6MB of Level 2 cache, will feature a TDP of 44 watts.

Apple is likely to adopt one of the Core 2 Duo Penryn chips for its upcoming sub-notebook, while using the remainder of the chip family to boost the specs of its MacBook Pro and iMac desktop line.

MacBook Pro- and iMac-bound Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile Penryn specs and prices

Currently, the Mac maker employs Merom-based Core 2 Duo chips at 2.2GHz, 2.4GHz, and 2.6GHz in its MacBook Pro notebooks, each of which include 4MB of Level 2 cache. For the iMac it uses 2.0GHz (4MB L2 cache) and 2.4GHz (4MB L2 cache) Core 2 Duo processors, and offers a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme (4MB L2 cache) on the highest end unit.

Going forward, a new line of MacBook Pros from Apple are more than likely to include 2.5GHz (6MB L2 cache) and 2.6GHz (6MB L2 cache) Penryn-based Core 2 Duo chips. For the next-generation iMac, the Cupertino-based company is similarly likely to employ 2.1GHz (3MB L2 cache) and 2.5GHz (6MB L2 cache) Penryn-based Core 2 Duos and a 2.8GHz (6MB L2 cache) Core 2 Extreme.

iMac compare
Current 65nm Merom-based iMac retail configs compared to potential 45nm Penryn-based retail configs
MacBook Pro compare
Current 65nm Merom-based MacBook Pro retail configs compared to potential 45nm Penryn-based retail configs

In addition to new notebooks and iMacs, Apple also continues to hold another Penryn-based system close at bay — an 8 Core Mac Pro built around two quad-core Harpertown chips and slated for a release any time the company sees fit.