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AMD re-iterates plan to offer multi-core Opterons

K9 = K8 * 2?

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AMD has confirmed it will ship multi-core processors - almost a month after admitting it was "inevitable" that the company will make such a move.

Interviewed by CNet, AMD CTO Fred Weber said: "We will have a multi-core product."

No surprise there. Chairman Jerry Sanders, speaking at September's European Athlon 64 launch, said it's "inevitable that we'll have multiple cores on a single chip". Indeed, at the same event, his engineering colleagues revealed that the architecture on which the Athlon 64 is based - and the Athlon 64 FX and Opteron processors, for that matter - was designed from the ground up to support two cores on the same die.

The Athlon 64's on-die North Bridge today can support connections from two cores - dubbed 'CPU 0' and 'CPU 1' in AMD's documentation.

Weber also said that the next generation of AMD's 64-bit architecture, codenamed 'K9', will begin sampling during the second half of 2005.*

Curiously, that's the same timeframe the company is believed to have specified for the release of dual-core Opterons, suggesting that K9 is simply 'K8', the architecture on which today's Opterons and Athlon 64s are based, with the second core in place.

Intel's first dual-core Xeon chip, codenamed 'Tulsa', is due to ship around the same time.

Weber also said that AMD is exploring its own implementation of simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) technology, a technique already implemented by Intel (as HyperThreading) in Pentium and Xeon products, and soon by IBM in its Power 5 chip. Weber's Microprocessor Forum keynote acknowledged that chip designers in the future will look to multiple cores each processing multiple threads, which is probably as close to a 'we're going to do it too' statement as we're likely to get right now. When chip makers speak about the industry generically, they tend to be thinking about themselves.

However, Weber gave no indication as to when SMT might appear in an AMD processor, or whether that chip will be K9. ®

* 2005's other big launch is, of course, the return of Doctor Who. How appropriate then that AMD codenamed is next generation of 64-bit chip after the good Doctor's robot doggie. Let's hope the chip works better than the mutt, which we recall was always breaking down, being written out of stories before being dumped altogether...

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