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Apple ships its first Intel laptop

Apple Computer Inc. said Tuesday it will begin shipping this week the new MacBook Pro, the company's first laptop computer to feature an Intel Corp. microprocessor.

Apple, which is in the midst of a historic shift to Intel chips, last month introduced its first Intel-based desktop computer, the iMac G5, about six months ahead of schedule.

Apple says the MacBook Pro delivers up to four times the performance of its former flagship laptop, the PowerBook G4, which uses PowerPC chips from IBM Corp. and Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

Instead of using the previously announced 1.83 gigahertz Core Duo processor, Apple said the new high-end MacBook will feature a 2.0 Ghz chip, but will remain priced at $2,499. The lower-end $1,999 model will have a 1.83 Ghz chip, instead of the previously announced 1.67 Ghz chip.

Discover to offer new debit cards

Discover Financial Services LLC is making an expanded push into debit cards, the fastest-growing segment of the overall cards business.

Discover, a unit of Morgan Stanley, said it will work with banks and other financial institutions to offer debit cards that allow users to pay for items by signing a card receipt. Customers can now only make purchases with Discover debit cards by punching their personal identification numbers, or PINs, into checkout-counter keypads.

Other chatter

NESTLE HIRES FAMOUS CHEF: Nestle SA, Europe's biggest maker of chocolate, has turned to a Spanish chef with three Michelin stars to help revive sales of its main Swiss chocolate brand. Ferran Adria, 43, is helping the company to develop new varieties of its Cailler brand of Swiss-made chocolate including Jasmine tea-flavored bars, Nestle said.

Information from the Associated Press and Bloomberg News was used in this report.

WHAT WOULD C-3POTATO SAY?: Hasbro gave the galaxy its first glimpse of Artoo Potatoo this week at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Artoo Potatoo joins Spud Trooper, left, and Darth Tater, right, in Hasbro's Star Wars Mr. Potato Head lineup.

Adria is known for converting food into foam-based dishes and his recipes include an apple caviar made with calcium chloride. El Bulli, where Adria is head chef, was in 2002 named the world's best restaurant by Restaurant Magazine.

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