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Intel brings 64-bit to desktop

Throws its cache around

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Intel has rolled out its last full slate of single core Pentium 4s for the desktop as it gears up for the debut of its dual core line sometime in the second half.

Monday's launch saw updates to the Pentium Extreme Edition line, aimed at gamers and power users, and the Pentium 4 6xx range aimed at the volume business and consumer markets.

Both lines are built on a 90nm process and feature 2MB of level two cache and Execute Disable Bit technology, which should protect against buffer overruns. The Extreme Edition's front side bus remains at 1066MHz, while volume business and consumer buyers will have to continue scraping by with an 800MHz bus.

Monday's launch finally brings Intel’s EM64T technology to the desktop, putting it on a par with AMD's hybrid platform.

Clock speed on the Extreme Edition has been cranked up to 3.73GHz from the current 3.46GHz. The 6xx line features five models, ranging from 3GHz to 3.8GHz.

Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology - the power management used in the vendor's mobile line - has also been incorporated into the Extreme and 6xx lines. Power consumption, and associated problems of heating and cooling, has been one of Intel's bugbears as it jacked up the clock speed of its chips.

The 6xx products will co-exist alongside the existing 5xx sequence for the first half of this year. Sometime in the second half Intel's dual-core products are scheduled to appear at the top end of the business market, along with new chipsets for the 6xx product range. Dual-core will also appear in both the high-end and mainstream consumer markets in the second half, according to the roadmaps Intel showed yesterday.

Intel executives yesterday were reluctant to set a date for the demise of mainstream single-core parts, saying that the single-core products would be available for "some time".

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