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We discuss Intel’s emerging product and pricing strategy.

Intel will be introducing its next “designated AMD killer” chip in about a month.

Normally, a term like “{fill in the blank} killer” means “something a lot better than the intended killee” but Intel has redefined the term to mean “something slightly better than the AMD offerings which we’ll sell cheap to keep the OEM Phenom prices and/or sales down.”

The Q8200 has little to recommend it as an overclocker’s chip. It’s a cut cutback version of the Q9300 series, with 4MB of cache rather than a Q9300’s 6MB (and the Q9x50’s 12MB). It runs at 2.33GHz, with a 7X multiplier, which will stifle overclocks more than a bit. And, at least officially, it’s not much cheaper than the Q9300, at $224.

However, the Q8200 is not intended for overclockers, but is instead meant as the replacement for the Q6600, which will be going to CPU heaven fairly shortly.

It does seem to be going out in a blaze of OEM glory, though, because it is showing up in some pretty cheap OEM boxes lately, including those sold by your local friendly electronics store and especially this $530 box (w/o monitor) with 3GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

If you prefer Ubuntu to Vista 32-bit (which is all Dell supports these days), and prefer to add your own RAM, you can get the price of a quad box down to $430.

While the Pricewatch price on the Q6600 is down to $178, Dell can’t be paying anything near that for these models.

I’ve been shopping for a few Sixpack boxes lately, and the people who’ll get them need a quadcore like a hole in the head, but a high-speed dually would end up costing even more than the Q6600 models.

I would suspect that when the Q8200 shows up, boxes based on that will cost somewhat more in time for Christmas, and these low Q6600 box prices are meant to clear out the inventory.

But with prices like these, you have to wonder what AMD is getting for its Phenoms. Even if the Denebs do somewhat better, it looks like Intel’s only response needs to be to come out with an Q8300 at 2.5 or 2.66GHz, just like the upcoming Q9400 is just a Q9300 with the multiplier upped from 7.5X to 8.

It seems like Intel is intent on establishing four “regular” product lines for quads. First, you have the $1,000+ “Extreme” line, second is the “full” line, with prices starting at around $300, next is the cache-cutback line at around $250, then finally the “Pentium Quad-Cores” for around $200.

This follows the pattern we now have for duallies, and while you don’t have “Extreme” chips anymore, you do have the E6xxx series, the E4xxx, and the E2xxx filling the other slots.

Nehalems look like they’ll fit the same pattern; an extreme Bloomfield, a regular one, then the Lynnfields, then the quad version of the Havendales.

I hardly see any room for new Celeron lines in addition to all this, do you?

The overall goal seems to be “Keep the price low (and cut the cache to cut the cost of making them) for those models competing directly with AMD, then make it up (and more) with relatively higher prices for the rest of the line.”

Ed

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