Advanced Micro Devices has completed its design for dual-core server and desktop processors and will ship products in 2005.
Both dual-core processors will be based on the company's AMD64 technology, said Fred Weber, vice-president of engineering for AMD's Computation Products Group.
That architecture includes 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 instruction set as well as an integrated memory controller that helps AMD move to dual-core designs, he said.
A dual-core chip is simply two separate processors on a single chip. In order to deliver the sharp increases in performance that have characterised the chip industry for over a decade, chip designers have been looking for another way to increase performance without increasing the chip's clock speed and therefore the amount of power it consumes.
The industry appears to have settled on dual-core designs as the way it will keep those performance gains going through the middle part of this decade.
Sun Microsystems and IBM have already released dual-core chips for servers as a way to increase performance without resorting to faster clock speeds, and therefore increased power consumption.
Intel plans to release dual-core processors for servers, desktops and notebooks next year. In May, it cancelled plans for the single-core Tejas and Jayhawk processors in favour of dual-core desktop and server chips.
AMD's technology is designed to connect up to four Opteron processors without a chipset as required by other processors. This makes it easier to connect the processors on a single piece of silicon, since the connection wires are already built into the chip, he said.
The dual-core server processors will share a single memory controller. This will not create a bottleneck because a server with two Opteron chips, and therefore two memory controllers, already has more than enough memory bandwidth required to run that system, he said.
"It's always a juggling act to add a little more processing and a little more memory. Right now, we have plenty of memory and I/O bandwidth, so we're adding processing," Weber said.
The dual-core chips will work with existing socket technology in motherboards that are rated for the specifications of the dual-core chips. A Bios change will be required, but otherwise the chips will work in the same sockets as single-core Opterons, he said.
AMD will also continue to offer three power ratings for its dual-core server processors. The company already offers chips rated at 30 watts, 55 watts, and 89 watts, and will continue to do so for dual-core chips.
The dual-core chips will be manufactured on AMD's 90-nanometer process technology. AMD is ramping up its 90-nanometer process technology with the first 90-nanometer chips scheduled to be available later this year.
The dual-core server chips will launch in the middle of 2005, while dual-core desktop processors will follow in the second half of 2005.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service