Availability check: Intel's 45nm Core 2 Duo processors

In early January, as the Consumer Electronics Show kicked off, Intel announced a lineup of 16 new processors all based on 45nm process technology. The lineup included four 45nm Core 2 Duos with clock speeds ranging from 2.66GHz to 3.16GHz, for which Intel quoted a January launch time frame. The company said it would follow up later in the first quarter with 45nm Core 2 Quads running at 2.5GHz to 2.83GHz.

45nm Core 2 Duos did in fact hit stores in January as promised, and we even featured the E8400 model in our deal post for January 25. However, the situation has deteriorated since then. 45nm Core 2 Duos seem to be in extremely short supply everywhere, with Newegg's lone E8400 model perpetually out of stock. Such tight availability is cause for concern a whole two months after the official launch, so we set out to check online retailers to see how many of them actually had any 45nm Core 2 Duos in stock—and at what price.

As with our graphics card availability checks, we limited our initial search to Newegg, TigerDirect, ZipZoomFly, and Buy.com. These are the four e-tailers with the most reviews on both our price search engine and ResellerRatings.com, so they should be a good indication of general availability. Normally, we'd highlight available models in green, but we found none today.

Price and availability
Model Newegg TigerDirect ZipZoomFly Buy.com
Core 2 Duo E8500 N/A N/A N/A $325.99
Core 2 Duo E8400 $239.99 N/A $279.80 $212.99
Core 2 Duo E8200 N/A N/A N/A $205.99
Core 2 Duo E8190 N/A N/A N/A N/A

In other words, folks planning to build a 45nm Core 2 rig had better bide their time. The pricing situation is pretty dire, too: the E8400 sells for around $245 on average—$62 more than Intel's official price tag of $183. The E8500 is also well over its $266 launch price, and the E8190 costs $43 more than it should. Neither availability nor pricing improved when we checked smaller retailers via our price search engine. The only chips we managed to find in stock were OEM processors that don't come bundled with coolers or warranty coverage, and they were typically marked up even further than the aforementioned retail-boxed offerings.

So, what's the deal? Is demand impossibly high, are there supply problems, or is there another reason for this scarceness? According to Intel PR Manager Daniel Snyder, it's a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B, "Huge demand and low early ramp volumes I believe." Synder says he'll get back to us with more details soon, so stay tuned.

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