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AMD Releases Multicore Chips

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As expected, AMD on Thursday launched its dual-core processor technology -- with support from an array of top hardware manufacturers -- to keep pace with rival Intel in the competition to deliver next-generation computing.

The Opteron 800 series processor is designed for four- to eight-way servers, while the 200 series chips are targeted at two-way servers and workstations. For desktop users, AMD is offering the Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor.

These products arrive on the heels of Intel's Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor, introduced on Monday, marking Intel's first foray into dual-core technology.

AMD claims new Opteron processors boost performance by up to 90 percent over single-core Opterons, enabling more robust multitasking capabilities for businesses customers and consumers.

Dual-core processors are the next evolution of AMD64's Direct Connect Architecture, and were designed from the ground up to connect two cores on a single die, improving system performance and efficiency.

"This ushers in the next level in computing," said Margaret Lewis, a software strategist for AMD. "By making the cores work more efficiently we can significantly improve performance while addressing the issues associated with increased power demands."

The Opteron 800 series does a superior job handling Web services applications, such as financial transactions and multithreaded database applications, Lewis said. On the client side, dual-core chips enable workstations or mobile machines to switch more easily from one application to another, or to run them simultaneously, she added.

Among those lined up to adopt the new Opteron chips are Sun, HP and IBM, all of whom unveiled dual-core platforms based on that x86, 64-bit computing architecture.

Sun announced dual-core support for its line of AMD64-based systems, including the Sun Fire V40z servers and the Solaris 10 operating system. HP has launched ProLiant server blades and dual-core HP ProLiant DL systems based on the Opteron 800, while IBM is offering eServer and IntelliStation products using the new processors.

Also, supercomputing specialist Cray has announced that two of its systems will feature dual-core Opteron processors.

At the same time, AMD is delivering the Athlon X2 Dual-Core processors to desktop and notebook manufacturers, with the official launch coming in June.

Alienware already has integrated the chip into its PC hardware. This processor enables both consumers and business users to take digital content creation and multimedia experiences to a higher level.

"We have some strong partnerships with systems builders that are supporting our dual-core strategy," said Lewis, adding that this strategy has been in place since the launch of its 64-bit architecture in 1999, which was designed from the ground up to include dual-core technology.

"That makes it much easier for customers to easily upgrade their hardware, in a nondisruptive fashion, than it would be with replacements using competing dual-core processors," Lewis said.

The significant difference between Intel's and AMD's dual-core technologies is that, essentially, Intel rolled out a high-end desktop processor while AMD has delivered it to the server, said Illuminata's Gordon Haff.

"Dual-core is seen as more important in servers, because they run more of the applications that can take full advantage of the new technology," he said.

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