The people marketing to consumers are malicious and hostile. Or possibly they’ve been kidnapped and replaced by aliens bent on driving us crazy. Those are the only explanations that make sense.

You may have read the media coverage of Intel’s blazing new processors, the first significant jump in processor technology in five years. They’re so much faster than current processors that the tech magazines and labs are stunned. And they use less power, allowing them to run cooler. Yesterday the mobile versions of the processors for notebooks were rolled out.

Pay attention! This is a quantum leap. It’s huge. Intel has dropped the price of its older processors and there’s a lot of them in the channel, but there’s every reason to believe that within six months the new processors will be the only reasonable choices on the market.

So what’s the problem?

It’s a small thing, really. The new line of processors are named “Core 2.” There are several models with the name “Core 2 Duo” and one named “Core 2 Extreme.”

Now go to Dell’s web site (business or home) and look for systems with the new processors.

There, that’s it, the Core Duo processor on the notebooks, right? Hah! Gotcha! That’s the old technology.

Pentium D with Dual Core Technology, right? Nope! Missed again.

“Pentium processor Extreme Edition that combines HT Technology and dual-core processing”? (Demonic laughter.)

“Powered by Intel Dual-Core Technology”? Nah.

Starting to get it? The name Core 2 Duo is virtually identical to the marketing terms used by Intel for years. Finding this revolution in processor technology requires parsing processor names searching for fine distinctions. Intel has made it impossible for consumers to make confident decisions.

(“64-bit dual core processors”? Nope, that doesn’t refer to the new Core 2 lineup either. Except for the line of Dell Precision workstations where it does on one model but not on two others that use the same words.)

This may help: if I understand correctly, the new processors are not “Pentium” processors. The “Pentium” name will be retired. “Core 2 Duo” is the complete name.

As of today, the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors are only available on high-end systems. Expect that to change rapidly over the next few weeks. Shop carefully!

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