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Quad-core won't make it big until 2009 - reseacher

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IDF How soon will we be merrily running our applications and games on four-core systems? Market watcher iSuppli reckons only a few will go quad-core this year, but by the end of 2009 - just over 18 months away - half of us will have takens that step.

Around 16 per cent of the performance desktops that shipped were quad-core systems, iSuppli said, many of them to people working in the content creation industries.

Gamers have been slower to hop on board, largely because there are few if any games out there capable of taking full advantage of such systems, Intel Digital Enterprise Group director Steve Smith told us today.

But he noted a big "mindshare shift" on the part of games makers, and claimed there is now a "strong development focus" on multi-threaded games.

That's one reason why, come Q4, quad-core systems will account for 33 per cent of PCs sold during that quarter, according to iSuppli. The share will have risen to 94 per cent by the end of 2009.

Mainstream quad-core boxes will move more slowly, accounting for just five per cent of the systems shipped in Q4, the researcher forecast, jumping to 54 per cent as 2009 turns into 2010. Smith likewise estimated a 2007 share of "single figures", confirming forecasts the chip giant has made internally.

But since the performance segment - essentially all the PCs that cost more than $1000 - only accounts for six per cent of PCs sold, so many, many more of the quad-core systems that are going to be sold in 2009 will be mainstream models rather than high-end rigs.

Notebooks will taken even longer. Smith admitted that Intel's mobile processor line-up won't gain a quad-core member until the Core 2 Duo family adopts the 45nm 'Penryn' microarchitecture, and even then certainly not in the first run of new processors.

When quad-core does come to the laptop world, it will target gamer-oriented systems. Smith wouldn't say when that will be, but iSuppli reckons Q1 2009, by the end of which only four per cent of notebooks that shipped in the quarter will contain quad-core CPUs. The percentage will rise to 11 per cent during Q4.

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