AMD launches dual-core Athlon 64 X2
The announcement came during the Computex show in Taipei
IDG News Service - Advanced Micro Devices Inc. today launched its dual-core Athlon 64 processor at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan.
Like one touted last week by Intel Corp., the chip contains two processors on a single piece of silicon and represents one of the biggest changes in PC processor architecture for several years. Dual-core chips offer users higher performance because tasks can be balanced between the two cores.
Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system is already set up to take advantage of the technology, as are many applications, AMD said.
"[Everyone] will benefit dramatically and qualitatively with multicore [chips]," Dirk Meyer, president and chief operating officer of AMD's microprocessor solutions sector, said at the company's launch event.
The Athlon 64 X2 is compatible with motherboards for AMD's single-core Athlon 64 chip, although current boards will require a BIOS upgrade. The advantage of this is that boards for the chip are already on the market, making upgrades of existing systems relatively simple.
The chip will initially be available in four versions, which won't come cheap. The prices range from $537 for the 4200+ version to $1,001 for the 4800+ version -- and those prices are for bulk purchases of 1,000 chips or more. "We've decided to go first at the high end of the market," said Henri Richard, AMD executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, at a news conference in Taipei.
Asked if AMD's chips might be too expensive for systems integrators, especially compared with the slightly lower prices of dual-core Intel chips, Richard said Intel's chips require a new chip set and additional cooling. As a result, the overall price difference between the companies won't be as great as the difference in chip pricing, he said.
Several prototype systems based on the new chip were on display at the launch event. They included a consumer desktop PC from Hewlett-Packard Co., a media center PC from Wistron Corp., the Feng Xing K9000 from Lenovo Group Ltd., Acer Inc.'s Aspire T140, Iwill Corp.'s ZMax DP and Shuttle Inc.'s XPC ST20G5.
So now that they're here, are dual-core chips for everyone?
That depends, said Rob Enderle, an analyst at San Jose-based Enderle Group, who attended the AMD event. Users who recently bought a machine don't need rush into replacing it with a dual-core model. However, he said, users just now replacing their hardware might consider the dual-code chip, especially given the typical three-year life span for a desktop PC.
The reason: The new chips will deliver even greater performance gains when used with a 64-bit operating system. Microsoft just launched such aversion of Windows, but it isn't easy to obtain for the average user, and there are still many issues associated with drivers for peripherals.
"If you want a machine that's ready for Longhorn, that's when it comes into play," Enderle said.
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