AMD to launch dual-core chips in 2005

Advanced Micro Devices will release dual-core Opteron processors for servers and workstations in 2005, the same time frame that Intel plans for its first dual-core products, an AMD executive said Monday.

The Direct Connect architecture used to build the Opteron processor makes it easy for AMD's designers to place two processor cores on the same silicon die, said Ben Williams, vice president of AMD's server and workstation business. Opteron features an integrated memory controller and Hypertransport interconnects that can connect the processor to the I/O port or directly to another processor, he said.

AMD will release more details about its dual-core processors as it approaches their release in 2005, Williams said.

Several chip makers are looking to dual-core designs as a way to increase the performance of next-generation processors without the constraints imposed by rising levels of power consumption in single-core processors. Two common methods of improving the performance of a single-core chip are increasing clock speed or adding cache memory, both of which require more power.

A dual-core chip is basically two separate processors on a single chip. Those two processors can outperform single-core processors on most multithreaded applications while running at lower clock speeds and consuming less power.

An application with multiple software threads will run faster on a dual-core processor because the operating system can assign an individual thread to its own processor core. Multithreaded applications running on a single-core processor must wait for one thread to finish before another thread can be processed.

IBM and Sun Microsystems have already released dual-core chips for high-end servers. The server world is especially primed to take advantage of multicore technology because so many applications for servers are already multithreaded, Williams said.

Earlier this month, Intel announced that it would shift all of its future server, desktop, and notebook processor development projects to dual-core designs. By 2005 Intel expects to have a dual-core chip available for each of those three segments, said Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini last week during the company's biannual financial analyst meeting in New York.

Williams was unable to comment on AMD's plans for dual-core PC processors. However, as more client applications become multithreaded, dual-core processors will make sense in all product lines, he said.

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