64-bit Dual-Core War: Intel beats AMD to the punch, but AMD hits back hard

Intel announced yesterday that they are releasing their multi-core processors before AMD made their announcement of a release. The first line of processors “made available” (I say that term loosely because it will be a while until the consumer market is able to touch them since the first run of the chips is going to Dell) will just be regular multi-cored processors and will be just like having two physical chips in your computer.

Actually, they won’t just be like having two physical chips, they really will be two chips built into the same package with the same (if not worse) heat problems that plague the P4 architecture. New hardware will be needed to run these chips, so don’t expect to keep your current computers if you are upgrading to these chips. The only advantage the Intel chips have over the AMDs is that they will be significantly less expensive (until the dual-core and hyperthreded chips become available) and they are backed by Dell

AMD, however, took a very different approach than Intel and integrated the chips onto a single silicon die and started the whole design from scratch to be backwards compatible with its previous generation of Opteron chips. Yes, that’s right, backwards compatible… meaning you won’t need to upgrade your hardware to take advantage of the new 64-bit processors (maybe just the BIOS). Another plus behind the AMD is that their CPUs will be backed by HP, SUN, and IBM; very stiff competition to the Dell-backed Intel processors.

The AMD chips will be shipping, as soon as April 21st, with multi-threading capabilities (from what I can tell, they have three active threads of execution at the same time between the two cores) on the chip along with extremely efficient transport busses designed to make data transport faster. Right off the bat, the AMDs have the advantage over the Intel chips.

I’m waiting for more data and white-papers to show up about both CPUs (the marketing-designed resources on their websites are not very helpful in giving more details about the inner-workings of the chips) before I make final judgment, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the dual-core hyperthreaded processors of Intel stand up to the triple-threaded threat of the AMDs. As for now, even with the Intel chips “coming out” before the AMDs, they AMD Opteron 64 are the clear winner based on specs alone.



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