AMD is due to launch the first dual-core PC versions of its 64-bit Opteron server processor on 21 April, ahead of rival releases from Intel.
The chips signal a new era of computing, where all computers, including PCs, will house two or more processing units, according to analyst Gartner.
The production of dual-core and multi-core processors is a technique used by chipmakers to boost server performance by embedding two or four microprocessors (cores) on a single chip. PA-Risc, Power and Sparc processors already incorporate dual-core technology.
This year, AMD Opteron and Athlon, Intel Pentium, and Itanium processors are expected to be available as dual-core, with Intel Xeon and mobile chips following in spring 2006. Analyst firm Gartner has predicted that users will be unable to buy single core servers after 2006.
Intel and AMD are reported to already be shipping the first models of their dual-core processors to hardware manufacturers. This indicates that IT departments will soon be able to purchase workstations and servers based on dual-core processors.
The main benefit of dual- and multi-core chips is that single processors can simultaneously manage more processing jobs, and, as a result, can offer better application performance, or run more applications at the same time. They could also allow companies to cut costs by consolidating their applications on to fewer servers.
Initially, AMD plans to release three families of dual-core Opterons. The 100-series is for single multi-core workstations. The 200-series family is for two-way workstations and servers; and the 800-series is for four-way and eight-way machines.
Intel said it plans to deliver two separate dual-core processors and chipsets for the Pentium family between April and June. These include the Pentium processor Extreme Edition, which uses established Hyper-Threading technology, where the chip can process four software “threads” simultaneously to make applications run even more efficiently.
Intel is reported to be shipping its 3.2GHz Pentium D-class Processor Extreme Edition model 840, which is designed for advanced gaming and multimedia PCs.
It will then ship Pentium D-class processors, models 820 and 830, with clock speeds of 2.8GHz and 3.0GHz. All have 800MHz front-side buses and dual Level 2 caches with 1Mbyte of capacity. The processors also support Intel’s EM64T 64-bit instruction-set extensions.