As expected, AMD has announced the immediate availability of its dual-core processors for desktop PCs. The Athlon 64 X2 was unveiled at the Computex conference in Taiwan and pits AMD against rival Intel’s Pentium D, which launched late last week. Swapping their usual positions, however, Intel is taking the value-oriented approach with its dual-core offerings.
The Athlon 64 X2 includes two CPU cores on a single processor, which enables the chip to better handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Although few applications are written to take advantage of dual-core chips, AMD says digital media tasks already show a 34 percent performance boost, with overall PC performance increased by 22 percent.

…AMD and Intel have raced to be first to market with dual-core processors, as both companies realized that faster clock speeds were only adding more heat and disappointing performance. AMD launched its dual-core Opteron processor for servers last month, following Intel’s pricey dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition.

Intel followed up the Extreme Edition with the low-cost Pentium D aimed at the consumer market. The Athlon 64 X2, meanwhile, comes in four varieties — 4200, 4400, 4600 and 4800 — and is priced about double the Pentium-D from $537 USD up to $1001 USD.

Unlike the Pentium D, however, the Athlon 64 X2 works seamlessly with existing AMD64 platforms, which means users will not have to purchase new motherboards to take advantage of dual-core technology. Intel’s dual-cores also require external chips to communicate, while AMD’s processor directly connects two cores on a single die.

AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 will not replace its high-end Athlon 64 FX processor that is designed for gaming. Because most games are not written to take advantage of the new chips, AMD says X2 will primarily benefit digital media enthusiasts and PC users who run multiple applications simultaneously.

AMD does, however, plan to introduce a dual-core Athlon 64 FX chip when “multi-threaded software games are available to take advantage of its benefits.”

Over 40 hardware manufacturers including Acer, Alienware, HP and Lenovo have signed on to ship Athlon 64 X2 based systems. AMD says the chip will also work in larger notebooks designed to replace desktop systems.


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