Intel has officially launched the long-anticipated Penryn-based dual-core processors for notebooks, but also indicated that users expecting quad-core mobile processors may have to wait until issues surrounding power consumption are resolved.

The new Core 2 Duo processors - the T8100, T8300, T9300 and T9500 - feature clock speeds between 2.10Ghz and 2.6Ghz, with 3MB to 6MB of shared L2 cache.

The news means that it is likely Apple will announce updated MacBook and MacBook Pro computers at next week's Macworld Expo Keynote (as well as updated Penryn-based Mac Pro's). However, Quad Core MacBook Pros are not on the cards until later on in the year.

The company's Core 2 Duo processors will be delivered to laptops based on the Centrino mobile platform. Manufactured using the 45-nanometres process, the new CPUs (central processing units) will provide laptops with better performance and improved battery life, said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager, Intel Mobile Platforms Group.

Intel's dual-core processors are good enough for notebooks at present as they perform required tasks and do not strain battery life, Eden said. Quad-core processors have power-consumption issues and are not ideal for laptops yet, Eden said.

Although Eden did not talk about Intel's mobile quad-core processor road map, he said notebooks in the near future will continue to see energy-efficient dual-core processors. Quad-core processors may first make their way to the high-end gaming and workstation notebooks that require heavy processing power, Eden said.

To preserve battery life, the Penryn-based Core 2 Duo processors have an advanced power management state called Deep Power Down Technology, which reduces a processor's power when not functional.

While cutting down on power usage, Penryn processors jump to higher clock rates and feature cache and design improvements that boost the processors' performance compared with earlier 65-nm processors, Intel has said. The improved processors deliver better video performance with the help of instruction sets designed to process graphics and high-definition video tasks.

Penryn processors feature smaller transistors and cut down on electricity leaks, according to Intel. The processors use high-k metal-gate transistors, which make the processors faster and less leaky compared with earlier processors that have silicon gates.

The improved Centrino mobile platform, called Santa Rosa Refresh, will feature the Intel Mobile 965 processor and support for 802.11n wireless networking. An upgrade to the platform code-named Montevina is already being planned by Intel, and is due out in the second half of 2008. The Montevina platform will include Echo Peak, a mini-card that integrates WiMax and Wi-Fi wireless technology on one chip.

Prices for the chips range from $209 for the T8100 chip to $530 for the T9500 chip.

Intel also introduced the Core 2 Extreme X9000 processor, which runs at 2.8GHz, includes 6MB of shared L2 cache and is priced at $851.

While Macworld Expo looms, no vendors made announcements of systems including the new processors at the time of press.

Intel also added Penryn-based server and desktop processors on Monday.

It released Core 2 Quad quad-core desktop processors with clock speeds of 2.5GHz to 2.83GHz and prices ranging from $266 to $530. Intel also released four dual-core desktop processors, including the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 processor, which runs at 3.16GHz, includes 6MB of L2 cache and is priced at $266.

Intel will ship three new Xeon quad-core processors, with clock speeds ranging from 2.5Ghz to 2.83GHz and shared L2 cache from 6MB to 12MB, with prices from $266 to $530. The company's new dual-core Xeon E3110 processor, which runs at 3GHz and includes 6MB of shared L2 cache, is priced at $188.