The first implementations of what Intel has called the biggest change in the PC platform for a decade were on display last month at the Computex show in Taiwan, shortly before their formal launch.
Central to the designs are new chipsets: the high-end 925X, codenamed Alderwood, and the 915P and the 915G, codenamed Grantsdale, which have integrated graphics.
Many changes implemented in the designs were outlined at last year's Intel Developers Forum.
These include onboard Dolby 7.1 sound, the new PCI Express (PCX) bus that is expected to supersede AGP and eventually PCI, and onboard Wi-Fi that can be configured either as a client or an access point.
Initially only Wi-Fi 802.11b/g is supported, but 11a is in the pipeline.
The new chipsets all support Hyperthreading, an 800MHz front-side bus, and dual-channel DDR2-533 memory which clocks at 266MHz, not 533MHz as its name suggests, as it is triggered by both edges of the pulse. The chipsets also let manufacturers support cheaper DDR1 memory.
Also introduced was a new BTX motherboard layout designed to assist cooling.
One innovation not announced in detail at IDF is what Intel calls Matrix Storage Technology. This is a way of implementing Raid 1 and 0 on two partitioned drives to bring server-class resilience to the desktop, allowing users to swap out a failed drive without stopping the machine.
Intel also launched a 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition for use with the new 925X chipset and aimed at gamers.
Five other new chips use Intel's new three-figure naming system designed to move people away from seeing the clock rate as a measure of performance, although that remains what distinguishes the new 520, 530, 540, 550 and 560 from each other.
They clock between 2.8GHz and 3.6GHz in 0.2GHz increments, with bulk prices ranging from $178 to $637.
Intel confirmed that the new Extreme and 560 chips will use the 925X chipset; the other 5xx chips will use the 915 flavours.
All processors feature a major physical change with the new LGA775 package, which uses gold pads for contacts rather than the usual pins. The aim is to reduce the risk of damage, but Intel stressed that users still need to take care when inserting them.
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