Analysts Mixed on Dual-Core Transition Outlook

Intel and other chip makers expect to move customers to dual-core processors in the next several years. However, performance, software and architectural factors make the market picture unclear, analysts say.

According to analysts, Intel Corp.s transition between single-core and dual-core processors should be gradual, a boon to the generally conservative server market.

At Gartner Inc.s Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla., Intel CEO Craig Barrett said the companys decision to move to a multicore architecture for its next-generation CPUs is a recognition that the computer industry is facing an increasing power-management challenge in its chip designs

Intel officials said that the sunset of single-core chips will take place over a period of time, although they were reluctant to disclose if that process would take place over months or years.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about Barretts comments.

Analyst reactions were mixed, however, on how easily the shift would take place.

Intel officials said previously that its desktop, mobile, and server microprocessor lines would shift to the dual-core architecture in the "2005 timeframe." On Tuesday, they clarified that roadmap and said it will stagger its dual-core rollout.

Now, the Xeon microprocessor used in servers will shift to the dual-core architecture in 2006, not 2005. The companys desktop and mobile chips will shift to dual-core designs in 2005, as will the companys Itanium line for back-end monolithic servers.

According to sources, Intels dual-core chip for desktop computers will be called "Smithfield."

Since Intels Xeon and desktop processor lines are so closely aligned, however, the Xeon could be pulled back into 2005, sources close to the company indicated.

Intel spokesman Michael Houlihan said the company was not being disingenuous with its earlier statements. "The Montecito [Intels dual-core Itanium] is a server processor," he said. "Weve said that our dual core plans involve a shift in our product line across 2005."

"Our priorities [in the dual-core chips] are desktop and mobile," Houlihan added. "Thats where the volume opportunities are."

Meanwhile, officials at rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., meanwhile, have indicated that they will be "first to market" with dual-core microprocessors for servers in early 2005.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about AMD and Intels dual-core designs.

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