RealTime IT News

AMD Challenges Intel to a Dual

AMD has challenged Intel to a dual ... as in dual-core processor.

The No. 2 chipmaker drew first blood earlier this week at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., facilities with a demonstration of a new dual-core AMD Athlon 64 processor, manufactured on 90-nanometer technology. The presentation follows last week's display of AMD's multi-core Opteron server and workstation chips at LinuxWorld.

Intel's chance to shine won't come till next week's Intel Developers Forum, where it is expected to demonstrate its dual-core Pentium 4, code-named Smithfield, and its Pentium M dual-core mobile processor, code-named Yonah. Both chips are on tap for launch before summer.

AMD demonstrated its first x86 dual-core processor in August 2004, showing an HP ProLiant DL585 server powered by four dual-core AMD Opteron chips. Intel first demonstrated its IA64 dual-core Itanium Montecito in September 2004.

Dual-core processors, which consist of two cores on one chip, are widely seen as a promising way to boost computing power, allowing servers, workstations and PCs to perform more functions simultaneously. AMD and Intel say they expect massive volume shipments of the dual-core chips in 2006.

Software vendors like Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat and Sun are very supportive of dual-core technologies. Each of the companies support Intel and AMD's recommendation to the ISV community to license their software applications by processor.

"The shift to dual-core comes from the problems it encountered increasing performance on a single core," IDC analyst Roger Kay told internetnews.com. "Essentially, power consumption and heat generation were unacceptable at higher clock rates. So, now these companies are pursuing a distributed computing strategy. Of course, AMD and Intel are engaged in a bragging-rights contest on all fronts -- highest clock rate, register size, bus speed, and anything else that can be measured -- but I think competitive concerns are not the principle drivers of their architectural considerations."

AMD said it has been shipping production samples of dual-core AMD Opteron processors to partners since January. The company plans to introduce a dual-core processor line-up for the one- to eight-socket server and workstation markets in mid-2005 based on the existing 940-pin socket. AMD64 dual-core processors for the client market are expected to follow in the second half of 2005.

"Dual-core technology is advancing the levels of performance and multi-tasking that can benefit businesses and consumers as soon as those processors become available," Kevin Krewell, an industry analyst with In-Stat said. "Multi-core technology is the next frontier in microprocessor design, and AMD is clearly positioned as a company that will enable it to become pervasive."

In addition, AMD said it plans to continue to improve single-core AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Athlon 64 FX processors.

Intel is not giving up on single-core architectures, either. The company said it has been encouraged by the number of "*T family" of technologies like HyperThreading and EM64T enhancements. Intel is also expected to introduce chips base on 65nm technology by the end of the year.