AMD Seeks The Spotlight With Dual-Core Processor Demo

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has demonstrated the equivalent of two microprocessors on a single piece of silicon.

September 1, 2004

2 Min Read
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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Tuesday demonstrated the equivalent of two microprocessors on a single piece of silicon, hoping to grab some market momentum before rival Intel Corp. unveils similar chips.

AMD, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., showed off its "dual-core" processor at its laboratory in Austin, Texas. The design, which essentially puts two electronic brains on a chip, boosts computing power while avoiding technological problems that result from single-microprocessor designs, such as excess power consumption.

AMD executives hailed the demonstration as a "milestone" in computing on the x86 platform found in most PCs and many larger servers. Some analysts, however, were less impressed, saying the company was essentially keeping up with its Santa Clara, Calif., competitor.

The dual-core processor is a modified version of AMD's Opteron microprocessor, which was the first x86 chip capable of running conventional 32-bit applications and new generation, high performance 64-bit software. The Opteron has been on sale since April 2003.

"This industry milestone changes the dynamics of the computing business," Dirk Meyer, executive vice president of AMD's Computation Products Group, said in a statement.Some analysts, however, were less enthusiastic. Gordon Haff of market researcher Illuminata Inc. said AMD's lab demonstration was more hype than substance.

"They're trying to position themselves as being ahead on this one, but it's a little bit disingenuous," Haff said. "I'm sure Intel could have done the same thing in the lab if they wanted to."

Both companies plan to release dual-core processors next year. AMD said its chips would be available for servers and workstations by mid-2005 and for PCs by late 2005. Intel has not been as specific.

While each company is expected to market its chip as different and better, their products are likely to be similar, Haff said.

"Everyone is basically working with the same technologies and taking similar approaches," Haff said. "At the end of the day, you end up with products that are relatively similar."In May, Intel announced that it was canceling two chip-development projects in order to accelerate development of a dual-core processor, which is better than conventional PC chips in handling multimedia applications. Being able to handle sound and video is becoming more important as PC makers try to position their consumer products as entertainment hubs.

In addition, as single-core chips get faster, they also produce more heat and consume more power, experts say. The former makes them more expensive, because of the added technology needed to dissipate the heat, and the latter makes them less useful in mobile computers. In addition, single processors are getting more complex in design, making them more expensive to manufacture.

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