Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is set to launch its first PC microprocessors with two computing engines on a single chip today, expanding its product line with a technology that is expected to be a major driver of personal computer performance for years to come.
The four dual-core chips to be unveiled at the Computex trade show in Taiwan are targeted at high-end personal computers used for advanced tasks such as creating or editing digital media. In April, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD introduced dual-core chips for computer servers and workstations.
AMD's introduction of the Athlon 64 X2 chips comes less than a week after Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. launched its first mainstream dual-core chips, called the Pentium D.
Both companies have been in a tight race to deliver the processors since engineers realized that simply ratcheting up the clock speed of single-core chips was creating too much heat and not producing the same improvements seen in previous models.
They discovered that performance could be boosted by creating two computing cores and running them at a slower speed on a single chip.
But the technology does have drawbacks. For one, it benefits only users who run several programs at once or have software designed to take advantage of the two engines.
The first Athlon 64 X2 chips cost about twice as much as Intel's Pentium D processors. The low-end AMD chip runs at 2.2 gigahertz and costs $537 when purchased in volume, and the high-end version runs at 2.4 GHz and costs $1,001.
By comparison, Intel's low-end Pentium D runs at 2.8 GHz but costs $241, and the high-end Pentium D runs at 3.2 GHz and costs $530. Intel also offers a dual-core Extreme Edition Pentium for $999 each.