Intel ramps up Core i5 processor range

This week’s launch of the second wave of Core i5 processors aims to make good on the chip’s mainstream mission.

Eight new processors now bear the Core i5 brand with the tally evenly split between desktop and mobile chips. The roster even includes an ultra-low voltage model intended for performance-oriented ‘thin and light’ notebooks for users who demand more mobile muscle than the current Core 2 Duo ULV chips are capable of providing.

It’s chips ahoy for the Core i5 with four desktop processors (detailed above) matched by four mobiles (below)

Unlike the debutante quad-core Core i5-750 launched last September the new chips are all dual-core processors built on the 32nm Westmere platform. This means that they include hyperthreading (which was absent from the 45nm Nehalem-class i5-750) plus an integrated Intel HD Graphics core baked onto the same silicon package.

However in the case of the four new Core i5 mobile processors vendors can fit a discrete graphics processor of their own choosing and enable user to switch between integrated and discrete graphics on the fly and without rebooting to favour either battery life or performance.

The entry-level Core i5 is the desktop i5-650 which sells for US$176 and clocks at 3.2GHz although as a single core operating in ‘turbo mode’ it peaks at 3.46GHz. The premium i5-670 ranges from 3.46GHz on both cores to 3.73GHz as a turbo-charged single core.

In the mobile space the Core i5-520UM (along with two Core i7 siblings) is the first chip designed for ‘performance ultrathin’ notebooks.

With a nominal speed of 1.08GHz but a turbo-pumped peak of 1.8GHz it also undercuts the current low-voltage and ultra-low voltage Core 2 processors in price – the i5-520UM sells to manufacturers for US$241 while the cheapest ULV offering in the Core 2 range is the US$262 single-engine Core 2 Solo.