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    AMD, Intel duel goes slash

    Intel might be the current CPU champ, but AMD's not throwing in the towel. Both companies are expected to announce significant price cuts next month on their existing processors, ahead of quad-core introductions.

    Intel is tipped to trim between 20 and 40 percent from the prices of several Core 2 Duo chips, including the Q6600 quad-core model.

    For its part, AMD is expected to take up to 30 percent off the Athlon 64+ series and lesser processors.

    AMD plans a midyear introduction of the first products in its quad-core Opteron family, code-named 'Barcelona.' The company claims it will deliver an estimated 40 percent performance advantage over "the competition" as well as improved power management through varying the clock speed of individual cores, and reducing voltage levels to the cores while the memory controller runs at full speed.

    But by the end of this year, Intel plans to introduce its 'Penryn' family, which takes the Core 2 and Xeon CPUs to the 45mn process and speeds in excess of 3GHz.

    Six models will be introduced in dual and quad core versions to cover the spectrum from notebooks to servers.

    Like AMD, Intel says the new chips will have improved power management. Penryn chips will be able to switch off unused cores.

    Meanwhile, Intel is working on its 'Nehalem' family, designed from the outset for 45nm implementation with the potential for up to eight cores on one chip. In addition, the cores need not be symmetrical - instead, the company will be able produced mixed versions to suit particular applications.

    A graphics controller will be included in the same package as the CPU, making it an extremely attractive part for mobile and small form-factor applications.

    Nehalem will begin shipping in 2008, followed by the 'Westmere' 32nm family in 2009.

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