Intel's desktop processors have not been in a good place for the past two and a half years. Pentium 4 and Pentium D CPUs have run at relatively high clock speeds but delivered relatively low performance compared to their competition from AMD. They've also drawn a tremendous amount of power, which they've generously expended as heat. In other words, they've been hotter than Jessica Simpson and slower than, well, Jessica Simpson. Despite heroic efforts by Intel's engineering and manufacturing types, these chips based on the Netburst microarchitecture haven't been able to overcome their inherent limitations well enough to keep up with the Athlon 64. As a result, Intel decided to scrap Netburst and bet the farm on a new high-performance, low-power design from the Israel-based design team responsible for the Pentium M.

The product of that team's efforts is a new CPU microarchitecture known as Core, of which the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme are among the first implementations intended for desktop PCs. We've been knee-deep in hype about the Core architecture for months now, with a stream of juicy technical details, semi-official benchmark previews, and clandestine reviews of pre-release products feeding the anticipation. Clearly, when a player as big as Intel stumbles as badly as it has, PC enthusiasts and most others in the industry are keen to see it get back up and start delivering exciting products once again.

Fortunately, the wait for Core 2 processors is almost over. Intel has decided to take the wraps off final reviews of its new CPUs today, in anticipation of the chips' release to the public in a couple of weeks. Intel has recovered its stride, returned to its winning ways, gotten its groove back, and put the izzle back in its shizzle.

Reviews from around the web:
TechReport, Anandtech, Hexus, LegionHW, MadboxPC, Trusted and Legit Reviews.

On a semi-related note, Mark Rein VP of Epic Games (of the Unreal Tournament and Unreal Engine fame) was interviewed not so long ago, blaming Intel for "killing" the PC games industry by promoting integrated graphics chips that barely can run todays games with adequate visual quality:

"Statistics show that people are moving to laptops in record numbers - laptops, as we know, are generally not upgradeable," he continued. "What I think is happening is that we're actually losing PC gamers in record numbers. People are going out and buying new computers at prices they feel should be fairly reasonable, and they're ending up with computers that make games look horrible."