Quad-Core Processor Forecast - InformationWeek

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9/26/2006
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Quad-Core Processor Forecast

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.

For an updated look at the most recent CPUs, see Quad-Core Processor Buyer's Guide 2007.

Dual-core processors are barely out of the starting gate, and already Intel and AMD are racing to see who can be first to market with quad-core CPUs.


Quad-Core Processor Forecast


  1)  AMD Server

  2)  Intel Server

  3)  AMD Desktop

  4)  Intel Desktop



        Image Gallery

Both chip vendors have spewed forth a blizzard of announcements, though no actual quad-core microprocessors have yet shipped. Intel disclosed at its late-September developer forum that it's giving its four-way devices the brand name "Core 2 Quad." As for AMD, it has touted the tape-out of a quad version of its Opteron server CPU as well as the launch of a new quad-ready socket.

So, while it's early in the quad-core game, it's nevertheless difficult to tell the planned parts apart without a scorecard. Accordingly, we bring you a short but hopefully useful guide, which corrals all the publicly available processor information into one place. We've separated the upcoming chips into server and desktop categories. We've also included an image gallery containing slides from Intel and AMD, which provide information on the respective companies' roadmaps.



Intel has an aggressive quad-core roadmap.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

AMD Server: Socket-F Opterons

Despite the intense publicity surrounding Intel's revelations at IDF about its desktop "Kentsfield" processor, servers are likely to be the arena where quad-core computing gets its sea legs. That's because server operating-system software is generally more capable of exploiting multithreading and virtualization. Those features maximize CPU throughput by doling out tasks to keep all the cores humming along. As well, server users have more of a need to run heavy duty apps to power their ecommerce sites and customer-relationship management databases than do typical desktop PCers.

As the duel for bragging rights has played out so far this year, AMD announced its server quad-core plans first, but Intel says it will be first to ship. AMD's server offering will be a beefed up version of its Opteron.

In mid-August, AMD said it had taped out, or completed the design of the underlying silicon, of its four-core Opteron. The processor is scheduled to ship in the middle of next year.

The quad-core Opterons will also use AMD's new Socket F. This 1207-pin socket will support a faster interprocessor communications link and will also the processors to be hooked up to faster RAM.



AMD has already taped-out its 4-way Opteron.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

Still unclear are the quad Opterons' specs for power dissipation and clock speed. Indeed, those numbers aren't publicly available for most of the upcoming quad-cores from both AMD and Intel. While the two vendors have shed some light on the former -- essentially saying that the thermal envelopes won't be much different from the existing dual-cores -- they've been pretty much mum on the latter.

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