Here's a quick guide to help you sort through the blizzard of CPU information spewing forth from Intel and AMD as they preview their respective quad-core plans.

Alexander Wolfe, Contributor

September 27, 2006

2 Min Read

While the 4x4 is technically aimed at so-called high-end "enthusiast" users -- aka gamers -- AMD is making what appears to be a mainstream hedge in that at least one of the available 4x4 SKUs is supposed to come in at around $1,000.

Beyond the 4x4, AMD is working on a true quad-core desktop design code-named. A key feature is a new L3 cache that's shared by all four cores. It will also incorporate an enhanced implementation of AMD's HyperTransport interprocessor communications link. While the AMD desktop quad-cores will initially support DDR2 memory, they'll eventually migrate to even faster DDR3 RAM. [Update: Oct. 5. The initial version of this story reported that 'Barcelona' is the code name for AMD's planned quad-core desktop. That was incorrect. Barcelona is the code name for AMD's quad Opteron. There is currently no code name for AMD's quad desktop.]

Intel Desktop: Core 2 Quad

As is not atypical for its products, the nomenclature of Intel's desktop processor family requires some parsing if it's to be clearly understood. At IDF, Intel said it would give its desktop quad-cores the brand name "Core 2 Quad." However, the first four-CPU processor out of the chute won't have that moniker.

Kentfield will debut as Core 2 Quad.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

"The initial desktop version of the Quad microprocessor will be introduced as a member of our Xtreme family so it will be a Core 2 Xtreme; that's the brand name," Otellini said at IDF. "The product will ship in November. In Q1 of next year, as we bring on more capacity for these products and different price points, we'll bring [quad core] into the mainstream under the brand name of Core 2 Quad."

More specifically, that Core 2 Extreme will carry the alpha-numeric designation QX 6700. As with the current high-end, dual-core Core 2 Extreme, it'll be aimed largely at high-end gamers.

The Core 2 Extreme and its quad cousins show up on Intel's roadmap under the code name "Kentsfield." Intel has provided some early samples of the processor to enthusiast sites such as Tom's Hardware. Early reviews are highly positive. Judging from the Tom's review, it looks like the 6700 will be joined one rung down on the spec chart by a Core Quad 6400 part. This runs at 2.67 GHz and has a 4-MB L2 cache.

Beyond the initial Core 2 Quads, Intel has a slew of 45-nm processors in the works. Expect those to begin to hit the market in late 2007 or 2008.

About the Author(s)

Alexander Wolfe


Alexander Wolfe is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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