RealTime IT News

AMD's Dual-Core Athlon Hits

AMD has launched the next version of its dual-core processors for desktops and laptops with the release of the Athlon 64-bit X2 processors, upping the ante against rival Intel in the dual-core, 64-bit computing race.

Company officials said the two-brain functions of the Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor are aimed at select consumer and digital media enthusiasts at this stage, as well as computer users who need to run many software applications simultaneously.

Teresa de Onis, a product manager with AMD, said the processors would shatter the so-called hourglass icon users experience with current processors. AMD is touting performance improvements of up to 80 percent on select digital media and productivity applications compared to single-core AMD Athlon 64 processors.

"It takes advantage of multi-threaded software," de Onis told internetnews.com. "Any applications that are multi-threaded will see immediate benefits."

AMD said it is confident that select markets are ready for the next-generation processors, such as online gaming and digital media enthusiasts. In that regard, at last, all the parts of the 64-bit ecosystem appear to be in place, she added.

Not only do the chipsets take advantage of multi-threaded software, as each core reads simultaneous instructions, the latest Athlon processors are suited to help multi-threaded software perform faster.

"There are tons of digital media applications on the market that are dual-threaded," she added. "The immediate benefit of this will be for digital media: photo editing, audio mixing software, video rendering, computer animation software, those kinds of things."

Even still, she said dual-core processors offer great benefits for multi-tasking among mainstream computer users that may not necessarily have to handle a lot of system-hungry digital media applications.

For example, she said the AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor is designed to allow consumers and businesses to simultaneously download audio files such as MP3s, burn a CD, check and write e-mail, edit a digital photo and run virus protection.

"They may be working on an average of six to eight applications simultaneously, and take care of simple stuff like taking redeye out of a photo," de Onis added.

Supporting the AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor are OEMs , such as Acer, Alienware, HP and Lenovo, as well as more than 40 leading system-builder partners worldwide.

When asked to comment about other OEMs that are not currently supporting AMD, such as Intel's long-time partner Dell, de Onis said the company is always looking for new relationships to build with partner OEM companies.

Athlon is officially hitting the market about two years after the debut of AMD's x86 64-bit Opteron processor for servers and workstations.

Now, AMD is moving to seed the consumer world with dual-core, 64-bit computing power as digital media management on the PC -- and its processor-hungry requirements -- become more pervasive among consumers.

The release of Athlon also marks the completion of a dual-core plan the company hatched about six years ago. A huge part of the dual-core roadmap over those years, officials told internetnews.com, was to ensure that those migrating from single-core to dual-core processors based on AMD64 technology could be seamless.

That's why the AMD Athlon 64 processor is designed to deliver the performance of a multi-core processor with the same 939-pin infrastructure as the single-core AMD Athlon 64 processors, requiring only a BIOS upgrade. As such, platform manufacturers don't have to redesign components, which means they don't have to pass those costs along to consumers.

AMD said its Athlon 64 X2 comes in four different designs, ranging from the 4800+ running 2.4 GHz and two separate caches of 1MB apiece. AMD said it will also offer a 4600+, a 4400+ and a 4200+ with slightly slower clock speeds and variable cache configurations.