Intel, AMD Believe in the Power of Four

Dual-core chips are barely out the door, but Intel and AMD are already working away to deliver quad-core processors.

The race is on to produce four-core processors for PCs.

Intel Corp., which is readying a bevy of dual-core chips for release in systems in the next month, is already plotting a move to quad cores, which some reports have said could come as soon as early 2007.

Thus the two main PC processor manufacturers, Intel and its rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., appear to be working toward the same goal of doubling the number of cores their processors can offer customers during 2007.

AMD has already discussed a plan to begin offering a family of four-core chips in 2007, whereas Intel has only broadly hinted about offering a four- core server chip the same year.

While the chip makers once battled over clock speed—in one form or another—the coming years will bring a new rivalry. Intel and AMD will trade barbs over who can offer chips with more processor cores sooner with better performance per watt, or how much power each chip consumes versus the amount of performance it offers customers.

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AMD was the first to offer a dual- core x86 chip, launching a dual-core Opteron server chip last April, while Intel was first to offer dual-core desktop chips.

Intel appears headed toward offering the first dual-core notebook chip in Yonah, a new version of its Pentium M that is expected in January.

While Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., has described publicly a quad-core server chip—a processor called Tigerton, which it will offer for servers in 2007—it may hit that mark first by packaging two dual-core chips together.

This is similar to the way Intel created its first dual-core Pentiums—like its Pentium D—by packaging two Pentium 4 chips together, according to a recent report by the Web site, Toms Hardware.

Next Page: Packaging chips together.