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Intel Expects 75% Of Its Processors To Be Dual-Core Next Year

Chipmaker will speed the transition with a slate of products later this year.

The computer industry's transition to dual-core processors looks ready to move into full-scale mode later this year as Intel rolls out offerings across its product portfolio for PCs and servers. Intel anticipates about three-quarters of all its shipments by the end of 2006 will be dual-core versions.

Intel has more than 15 dual- and multicore projects under way. "The transition starts in the second quarter of 2005, and over a two-year time period, substantially all our platforms will move to dual cores," Stephen Smith, VP in Intel's digital enterprise group, said at the Intel Developer Forum Tuesday.

Single-core and dual-core offerings will co-exist over the next couple of years, Smith said, with the dual-core offerings representing the high-end of Intel's price-performance curve. By the end of next year, however, dual-core shipments are expected to total 70% of all desktop and mobile processors, and 85% of all server processors. Dual-core processors are a chip with two CPUs.

Intel plans to begin shipping dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition and mainstream dual-core Intel Pentium D processors in the second quarter.

The Pentium Extreme Edition will include the use of two hyperthreads on each core, for a total of four hyperthreads in the processor. The hyperthreads will allow for running multiple instructions simultaneously. The Pentium D will not have hyperthreading initially.

Intel will ship its first dual-core Itanium, code-named Montecito, in the fourth quarter of this year, as well as dual-core Xeon processors. Intel will begin shipping its dual-core mobile processor, code-named Yonah, in the first quarter of 2006, Smith said.

Intel has invested more than $35 billion in capital and R&D since 2000 to bulk up its capacity and lower manufacturing costs. It has four factories already producing 300-mm-sized wafers--the largest currently in use. The larger wafers produce about 2.5 times more chips per wafer than the prior-generation 200-mm wafers, helping to reduce the cost per individual component by 30%, Smith said.

By the end of the decade, Smith added, Intel expects to have devices with as many as four cores running up to eight threads each.

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