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AMD plays catch up with dual-core desktop and notebook chip

Intel wins where it barely counts

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Along with the release of its dual-core server chip, AMD today has announced the imminent availability of dual-core chips aimed at desktops and notebooks.

Come June, AMD will rollout the Athlon 64 X2 chip for desktops and large "desktop-replacement" notebooks. It seems that AMD managed to push up the release date of this dual-core chip a bit, since it had been pointing to a "second half" of 2005 launch up till now. The speed up is an obvious response to Intel, which released dual-core desktop chips on Monday.

AMD has planned four initial models of the Athlon 64 X2 line. The 4800+ will ship at 2.4GHz with a pair of 1MB L2 caches. The 4600+ will ship at 2.4GHz as well but with 512KB caches. The 4400+ will come in at 2.2GHz with the 1MB caches, and the 4200+ will ship at 2.2GHz with the 512KB caches.

While both AMD and Intel are claiming victory in the dual-core x86 processor war, most pundits would declare AMD the real winner. The new dual-core Opteron starts shipping today and will go to server makers who are well equipped to take advantage of the designs. The server market has a much richer set of threaded software that runs well on multiprocessor systems. Intel won't have a similar dual-core server chip until 2006.

In addition, server customers tend to demand higher performing systems well ahead of consumers.

The only dual-core bright spot for Intel will be with gamers hungry for all the desktop processing power they can get. And Intel's lead on the desktop is just a couple of months whereas AMD has close to an 8 month lead on the server.

Both vendors should benefit from the release next week of Microsoft's 64-bit version of Windows XP for their respective processors. ®

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