Intel, AMD Dual-Core Race Heats Up

Intel ships its dual-core, 3.2GHz Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor and 955X Express chip set to customers as AMD prepares to unveil its dual-core Opteron.

Chip makers Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are ramping up their race into the dual-core processor space.

Abhi Talkwalkar, vice president and general manager of Intels Digital Enterprise Group, announced Monday at the Intel Developer Forum in Taiwan that the company has begun shipping the dual-core, 3.2GHz Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor and 955X Express chip set to customers.

Dell Inc. on Monday announced that it soon will begin shipping a high-end desktop PC and workstation armed with the new chip.

The announcement comes just over a week before AMD executives gather in New York City to celebrate the second anniversary of their 64-bit Opteron server processor. The company is expected to announce its dual-core Opteron at the event.

Dual-core computing—which offer two processor cores on a single piece of silicon—improves performance by enabling the two cores to work independently. Essentially, dual-core processors enable a two-way system to do the work of a four-way system. Common in the Unix space, Intel and AMD are racing to become the leader in dual-core processing in the x86 arena.

Intels announcement seems timed to take some of the shine off AMDs upcoming news. AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., has become a more formidable opponent to Intel since the release in 2003 of its Opteron and Athlon64 processors, which run both 32- and 64-bit applications. Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., initially pushed Itanium as its 64-bit offering, but over the last year has brought 64-bit capabilities to its Xeon and Pentium chips via its EM64T technology.

Dual-core is the next key step. Intels 64-bit Pentium Extreme Edition 840, built on the 90-nanometer manufacturing processor, offers up to 1MB of Level 2 cache on each core. Dual-core capabilities in its Itanium processors are set to appear later this year in its "Montecito" processor, as well as dual-core Xeons.

AMD officials have said they expect to release their dual-core Athlon64 processors for PCs later in the year.

OEMs using processors from both companies say they are planning systems that will run the dual-core processors.

/zimages/4/28571.gifAnalysts are mixed on the outlook for the transition to dual-core processors. Click here to read more.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM offer systems running on both Intel and AMD processors. Sun Microsystems Inc. is pushing its new line of Opteron-based servers and reportedly is readying a new line of systems that will use AMDs dual-core chips.

Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, in the coming weeks will release the Precision 380 workstation and Dimension XPS powered by Intels Pentium Extreme Edition 380, said Darrel Ward, worldwide marketing manager for Dells Precision workstation.

Dell will broaden its use of dual-core technology as Intel grows its offerings and depending on customer demand ramps, according to a spokesperson.

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