Computex heralds dual-core desktop era

Many computer makers will get their first look at dual core chips from Intel and AMD at Computex next week.

At least four things will be on the minds of many attendees at next week's Computex trade show in Taiwan: the dual cores of Intel's Pentium D processor and the dual cores of Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon 64 X2 processor.

Computex will be the first major event at which IT buyers and computer makers get to see these dual-core desktop processors up close and in action. The Pentium D is due to launch this week and the Athlon 64 X2 will be launched at Computex on Tuesday, the first day of the show.

Dual-core processors contain two processors on a single piece of silicon and give users improved performance. This is because processor-intensive tasks like editing video and burning optical discs can be handled independently, so they don't slow each other down as can happen with a single-core processor. Both Intel and AMD have already launched dual-core processors for server computers.

By debuting the chips at Computex both companies will get the chance to put them in front of thousands of representatives from the world's hardware industry. Computex attracted 118,000 visitors last year, including more than 26,000 from overseas, and organizers are expecting similar attendance this year. About 1,300 exhibiting companies will be on hand next week, showing almost every electronic part imaginable including processor fans, PC cases, optical mice, memory chips and cables.

Many buyers visit the show to make or renew contracts with Taiwan's huge components and hardware industry. Deals done at the show directly impact products on sale around the world for the rest of the year, and especially during the holiday shopping season.

Some of the biggest and most frenetic booths are of computer motherboard makers, who this year are likely to be showing boards compatible with the new dual-core processors and many other current chips. Visitors are also likely to see working demonstrations of systems and, if past years are anything to go by, a little bit of overclocking, in which processors are made to run faster than they are rated to squeeze out extra performance.

The dual core chips won't be the only new processors at the show, as Via Technologies is expected to show a new processor at Computex for the first time.

Alongside the components will be a big selection of finished products such as digital cameras, home media centers and MP3 players. These are often produced by vendors that few have heard of, and a successful deal at Computex can see the products rebadged with a famous brand name before they go on sale.

This year, home entertainment and consumer electronics products are expected to be on display everywhere, as the appetite of consumers for digital home electronics products grows.

The show isn't only about hardware. Several major software companies call Taiwan their home, and companies such as Cyberlink and Ulead Systems are expected to show new versions of their applications. The companies' products include software for digital video recording, multimedia slide shows and video communications.

Computex takes place from May 31 to June 4.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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