Is Intel finally back in the processor race?

The hardware world has been set ablaze with a slew of reviews featuring the next generation Intel desktop processor - codenamed Conroe - against the current undisputed champion, the AMD Athlon FX60. The results are stunning if the benchmarks are to be believed.

Intel, the performance underdog for the past year, is set to come back with a vengeance; the new Conroe processor more power-efficient than the older Pentium IV architecture, and much more powerful. To put it in perspective, the new top-of-the-line Conroe processor will run at 3.33GHz, yet manage to be almost twice as fast as a similarly clocked Pentium IV processor.

How Intel has managed to generate such a product is almost legend in itself. Conroe is derived from the old Pentium III architecture, which many believed was killed too early - and they were right. Intel’s engineers in Israel pulled an updated version of the Pentium III, tweaked it, combined two cores - essentially two processors - on one die to fit one socket, and voila!

Such a power delta between generations has not been seen since AMD K7 took over the ageing K6-3 family. Incidentally, the K6-3 was a direct competitor of early Pentium III processors.

Although Intel has been criticised for providing the parts - which will not be available for the next four months or so - and the computers for that series of tests, the focal point remains unchanged. It seems that unless AMD, who have been uncannily silent for the past few days, produce an even stronger challenger, Intel will be the undisputed performance Champion.