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AMD heralds OS support for dual-core CPUs

As Intel prepares to detail its own multi-core chips

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IDF Fall '04 Novell, Red Hat and Sun today said they will support future multi-core Opteron processors, AMD said today.

That's no great surprise, perhaps, since dual-core AMD64 CPUs were designed to appear to the operating system as a pair of processors, and SuSE Linux, Red Hat Linux and Sun Solaris are all capable of running on multi-processor rigs.

Still, it's nice to have them come out and give the upcoming dualies their thumbs-up, so you can't blame AMD for asking them to do so. Particularly since arch-enemy Intel is expected to discuss and demonstrate its own dual-core processors later today when this autumn's Intel Developer Forum (IDF) opens in San Francisco.

Just as AMD demo'd a four-way HP ProLiant DL585 server containing dual-core Opterons - for a total core count of eight - last week, so this week Intel will talk about 'Smithfield', its dual-core 'Prescott'-based Pentium 4, and possibly 'Montecito' and 'Millington', the dual-core Itaniums.

Dual-core parts from both AMD and Intel are due mid 2005. Both will need to resolve at least once potential rock on their multi-core road: software licences that bill on a per-processor basis. Should a dual-core chip be counted as one CPU or two? Fearing a backlash, AMD for one is touting the former, and is pitching its dual-core chips as devices better able to run multiple threads than multiple applications - in other words, they're simply fancy Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT) CPUs, not a replacement for two-chip machines, OK?

That may prove a harder play for Intel, whose cores already provide SMT support, under the HyperThreading brand. But we can probably expect it to push dual-core in the same way. ®

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