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The world’s second largest manufacturer of microprocessors for personal computers, Advanced Micro Devices, reiterated its plans to bring dual-core chips for consumer markets already next year to battle its arch-rival Intel Corp..

AMD Athlon 64, Opteron Get Two Cores

According to a report over Planet3DNow! web-site citing senior AMD executives, AMD put the dual-core AMD Opteron processors into plans for release in the second-half of 2005 and dual-core AMD Athlon 64 chips shortly afterwards, if the market demands. While the intentions of Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker to introduce dual-core microprocessors have been known for a lot of time now, this is the first time when the firm’s execs officially unveiled the timeframe for the release.

According to some reports, AMD’s dual-core chips will share the L2 cache and HyperTransport bus. It is not unveiled whether the changes to the design of the chips require substantial engineering efforts or slight re-designing of existing offerings will only be needed.

Two Cores from Two Companies

Earlier this month Intel said it had cancelled the development of single-core Pentium 4 and Xeon successors code-named Tejas and Jayhawk in favour of unnamed dual-core chips. The industry analysts believe that the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker aims to deliver Pentium M-derivatives with two cores, 64-bit capability and other enhancements, such as Vanderpool technology.

Dual-core processors can process two times more data per clock and handle more than one threads at once. This allows the whole system to perform a lot better under high load when running multiply processors.

Exclusive availability of dual-core chips for servers, laptops and desktops could seriously boost Intel’s competitiveness and reduce AMD’s, but after AMD said it planned to enter the same kind of products in approximately the same timeframe, it is clear that both firms will deliver tangibly more powerful chips next year.

Yields Under Question

While dual-core processors typically bring higher computing speed, their die size is also substantially larger compared to single-core microprocessors. As a result, fewer such chips can fit onto one wafer, which means that less such microprocessors may be produced from a single wafer. Furthermore, larger the core is – lower the yield is – likely the chance of its failure during the manufacturing process is.

It was not announced which fabrication process is going to be used to make dual-core microprocessors.

Intel is making chips using 90nm now and aims to start using 65nm fabrication process in late 2005 or early 2006. The die size of the company’s chips is larger compared to that value the rival, however, Intel has a number of fabs to make semiconductors and ramp up the production of dual-core chips in time.

AMD is making processors using 130nm process technology today and plans to start 90nm ramp later this year. The company’s only facility – Fab 30 – is capable of starting around 5000 200mm wafers per week, which may put the company under pressure to produce cost-effective dual-core chips there in 2H 2005. AMD’s Fab 36 that will use 300mm wafers and 65nm process technology will go online in 2006.


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