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Dual-core Opteron to ship late 2005

Targeting Intel's 'Tulsa'

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AMD made it clear at last week's Athlon 64 launch that multi-core versions of its processors were "inevitable", but the company has now put a date in place for their release.

According to company officials cited by Xbit Labs, dual-core Opterons will ship late 2005. They will be pitched against Intel's first dual-core Xeon, 'Tulsa'.

Speaking at the Athlon 64 launch, AMD said its 64-bit architecture had been designed from the ground-up to support two cores on a single die. The chip's North Bridge components even today can support connections from two cores - dubbed 'CPU 0' and 'CPU 1' in AMD's documentation.

Intel's multi-core readiness isn't known, but it's telling that the company is waiting until it has shipped as yet unreleased next-generation Itanium, Xeon and Pentium chips before moving to multi-core designs. Have 'Prescott' and its Xeon equivalent, 'Potomac', been designed to support two cores on the same die? Or will Intel not engineer that feature in until it actually ships a dual-core CPU?

Certainly, it will have to wait until its 90nm fabrication process is more mature, and that's probably what's holding AMD back, too. AMD plans to begin using a 65nm process in late 2005 - the same timeframe for the dual-core Opteron - so it may even be waiting for that smaller process. Building the chip on a well-established 90nm process seems more likely, however. ®

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