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AMD: dual-core not for gamers... yet

Waiting for dualie-friendly titles - or Athlon FX stocks to sell?

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Gamers, AMD's upcoming dual-core desktop processor, the Athlon 64 X2, is not for you. What you want is the single-core Athlon 64 FX.

So the chip maker said today. According to John Harris, AMD's head of marketing in North America, despite the performance benefits that the X2's extra core brings, "the Athlon 64 FX is still the best processor for gaming."

Harris' reasoning is that until games start being coded for multiple processors, which he reckons won't happen until next year, you'll get better game performance out of the single-core chip.

Right now, the FX-55 is clocked at 2.6GHz. The top-of-the-range X2 4800+ is only clocked at 2.4GHz. Both chips' cores have 1MB of L2 cache and connect to the system via a single HyperTransport link. If a game is single-threaded, it will at any given time be running on only one of the two available cores. So the FX has that 200MHz advantage.

That said, the FX is also having to process all the other threads running alongside the single-thread game whereas the X2 can at least run them on its second core, essentially granting the game a better crack of the single-core whip. Is that enough to make up for or even exceed the FX's 200MHz advantage?

It's going to make for some interesting benchmark tests to see how the two compare.

In the meantime, the X2 will be pitched at the obligatory "digital media" apps, for which the chip brings a 30-50 per cent performance boost over its single-core brethren, Harris said.

And for those folk who question the need for this extra performance, well, it'll be there to handle all those anti-malware apps you're forced to run in the background these days to keep your PC safe. Sorry, your Windows PC safe. ®

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