Intel has released its new "Merom" chip for laptops, with Dell, Gateway and Toshiba among others announcing new products with the chip to coincide.

Merom upgrades the popular Centrino chipset, a bundle that combines the main central processing unit (CPU) with a mobile chipset and wireless card.

Merom is the third launch in recent months from Intel's new line of dual-core, 65nm process chips built with the Core 2 Duo architecture. The company launched its "Woodcrest" Xeon 5100 chip for servers in June and its "Conroe" Core 2 Duo chip for desktops in July. And yesterday, it released its new "Tulsa" server chip, again at the same time as a number of vendors announced new products with it in.

A laptop running the Core 2 Duo chip instead of Pentium M will offer twice the CPU performance while drawing 28 percent less electricity from the battery, said Dadi Perlmutter, senior vice president of Intel's Mobility Group.

Intel hopes the new Merom chip family will help stem its leak of market share to rival AMD with its dual-core Turion 64 X2 processor.

In worldwide sales of notebook processors, Intel has watched its market share drop from 87.6 percent in the first quarter of 2005 to 86.0 percent in the first quarter of 2006, according to Gartner. The fall has been steeper in the US, where Intel tumbled from 81 percent share during the month of June 2005 to 66 percent in June 2006, according to Current Analysis.

Since Intel began shipping the new Core 2 Duo chip to vendors last month, computer makers have come up with 200 notebook designs that specify the chip, including its placement in Intel's Viiv bundle for entertainment PCs.

The Core 2 Duo chip will offer users improved multi-tasking power, media capabilities and battery life, said Alienware, who will use the chip in three of its high-end gaming and media notebooks. Gateway will begin selling notebooks with Core 2 Duo chips on 31 August, saying the new chip will speed data processing and overall efficiency for mobile business customers.

Likewise, Toshiba announced it would use the new chip in its Qosmio G35-AV660, a multimedia notebook PC with an HD DVD-ROM drive and two 120GB hard drives for storing TV programs and music files. Adding the powerful new chip to the high-end features in this audio-video notebook model will boost processing performance for HD DVD playback as well as music, gaming, TV, video editing and PC multitasking, said Jeff Barney, vice president of marketing for Toshiba's Digital Products division.

Despite that heavy computing load, the Core 2 Duo is still Intel's most energy-efficient dual-core performance mobile processor, conserving power resources while reducing fan noise and heat, he said.

Intel is shipping five versions of the Merom Core 2 Duo chip, priced per chip in 1,000-unit quantities at $637 for the 2.33GHz T7600, $423 for the 2.16GHz T7400, $294 for the 2.00GHz T7200, $241 for the 1.83GHz T5600 and $209 for the 1.66GHz T5500.