Intel’s hot-to-trot Core brands are getting all the attention at this week’s launch, but there’s also a 32nm Westmere-class Pentium on the menu.
For Intel, Pentium is the brand that just won’t die. Not that they want it to, mind you.
First cooked up almost 18 years ago by marketing agency Lexicon Branding, in order to create a unique product name after a US legal ruling that number-based brands (such as the chip’s intended i586 moniker) could not be trademarked, the Pentium turned out to be one of Intel’s most successful processor lines, and perhaps also its best-known.
Pentium long ago ceased to be the alpha male of microprocessors, being first replaced by the Core and Core 2 chips and now the latest Core i3, i5 and i7 series.
But it still lives on as a low-end “value” line, alongside the Celeron. For example, Intel’s ultra-low voltage lineup for ‘ultrathin’ notebooks sports Pentium Celeron processors on the lower half of the price-performance ladder beneath a pair of Core 2 powerplants.
This week sees the old horse taking another trot around the track, but this time it’s a new chip built on the same 32nm Westmere architecture and Clarkdale blueprint as Intel’s Core i3 and Core i5.
Tagged the Pentium G6950, the dual-core processor clocks at 2.8GHz with 3MB of L3 cache and will sell to vendors for a low US$87, compared to US$113 for the cheapest Core i3 (the 2.9GHz i3-530 desktop) and US$176 for the entry-level Core i5-560, which has a base speed of 3.2GHz but can hit 3.46GHz in ‘turbo’ mode.
Like other Westmere-class chips the new Pentium pairs its 32nm processing core with a 45nm Intel HD Graphics core and integrated memory controller and support for virtualisation.
Intel is pitching the Pentium as the chip of choice for “an ideal basic desktop system… reliable and energy efficient with solid performance, the Intel Pentium processor continues to offer great capabilities at an economical price.”
Intel is also hatching a pair of 45nm Nehalem-class dual-core Pentiums and a dual-core Celeron based on the older three-chip ‘Wolfdale’ design of the Core 2.
The 2.8GHz Pentium E5500 and 3GHz Pentium E6600 both have 2MB of L3 cache and are priced respectively at US$74 and US$84. The dual-core 2.6GHz Celeron E3400 has 1MB cache and will sell at $53.