The race between Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to be first to market with dual-core processors is about to come to a close.
AMD is expected to introduce its first dual-core Opteron processors an event in New York City scheduled for April 21, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.
The event will come in conjunction with the second anniversary of the 64-bit Opteron, which was unveiled April 22, 2003. The first dual-core systems from server vendors were expected to be available around the time of AMD's launch, these sources said.
In the two years since Opteron's appearance, AMD has seized the technological lead from Intel in the server processor space. It was first to market with 64-bit processors based on Intel's x86 instruction set, and now it appears likely to beat Intel to market with chips that feature two processing engines, called cores.
But Intel has not stood still. Earlier this month, the company completed its move to 64-bit Xeon processors and it has pledged to begin shipping its first dual-core chips, the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition 840, by the end of June.
Both companies had gone to extra measures to capture a perception of leadership in dual-core processors, editor-in-chief of Microprocessor Report, Kevin Krewell, said.
Intel, for example, recently provided a number of computer magazines with review systems running its not yet launched Pentium processors.
"Why else would Intel have previewed the Pentium Extreme Edition with dual-core to select review sites and allow them to publish benchmarks well ahead of the availability of the part? It's unheard of," he said.
AMD spokesman, David Schlosser, declined to comment on what his company plans to announce at the April 21 event.
"The anniversary event has become a tradition," he said. "It's an opportunity to celebrate the success of our AMD Opteron with our partners and our end-users."
In a note sent to members of the press, AMD claimed it would have several significant announcements in conjunction with the event.
Like their single-core counterparts, the dual-core Opteron processors are expected to have a maximum power consumption of 95 watts. But what AMD has not disclosed is how much they have had to reduce the Opteron's clock speed in order to operate two processor cores with that power. AMD's current array of Opterons offer a maximum clock speed of 2.6GHz.
To put two cores on its forthcoming Pentium processor, Intel has had to reduce the chip's maximum clock speed from 3.73GHz to 3.2GHz and increase the maximum amount of power used from 110 watts to 125 watts, Krewell said.
He expects AMD's new chips to have a maximum clock speed of about 2 GHz.
AMD has said that dual-core processors were designed to fit into existing single-core Opteron server designs.
AMD and Intel may be racing each other to be first with dual-core, but they are actually late to the game, according to Krewell.
Sun Microsystems and IBM already ship servers based on their own dual-core processors.
HP, IBM, and Sun all ship systems based on the Opteron processor.