AMD: No Single Cores Left Behind

Despite its dual-core chip pledge, chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices says it will continue to offer single-core processor chips for some time.

Sometimes two processor cores arent any better than one.

Despite introducing Athlon 64 X2 desktop PC and Opteron server processors, with dual cores or two separate processors in the same package, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. says it will continue to tout single-core processors for certain applications.

For one, the company plans to continue offering single-core Athlon 64 FX chips—likely a 2.6GHz Athlon 64 FX-57 that will arrive within weeks—for gaming desktops.

The chip maker also continues to tout its single-core Athlon 64 line for "mainstream" or somewhat less expensive desktops, many of which are used for everyday business or home computing tasks, such as word processing or checking e-mail.

But in a slight change of plans, AMD no longer intends to deliver new, single-core Athlon 64s this year, a company executive said. It had been expected to bring out an Athlon 64 4200+ soon. The decision eliminates overlap between the single-core Athlon 64 and dual-core Athlon 64 X2 chips, whose model numbers start at 4200+. They are due in desktops in June.

While AMD is holding back new single-core chips for mainstream PCs, its decision still underscores the fact that, despite the explosion of dual-core PC processor introductions of late—Intel launched its dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 on April 18, just ahead of AMDs April 21 launch, and plans to offer dual-core Pentium D for mainstream machines this quarter—single-core chips will continue on through at least 2006.

It will take some time for dual-core technology to make its way into game PC chips as well as into the mainstream and low-price PC processors, such as AMDs Sempron and Intels Celeron.

"Dual core is primarily a prosumer and a multimedia kind of product. Its designed to help people that are running high-end multitasking or multithreaded applications, such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Moviemaker," said Jonathan Seckler, Athlon 64 product manager at AMD.

"When we have games that are multithreaded … well certainly move the FX to dual core at that point. Right now, were thinking thats a 2006 story."

For single-thread applications, ranging from todays high-end 3D games, which benefit from speedier processors, to productivity software such as Microsofts Word, the "Athlon 64 or FX are still the right choice," Seckler said.

"Id say theres still a thriving mainstream market where an Athlon 64 provides great performance for the things people are doing now, and they can wait and upgrade to an Athlon 64 X2 in the future."

Next Page: AMD updates marketing for its four varieties of desktop PC processors.