AMD Preps for the Quad Wars

Arthur Cole

It was a catfight we all knew was coming, but now that AMD is amping up the viral marketing campaigns for its entry into the quad-core ring, there's nothing much to do but sit back and watch the fur fly.


With the Barcelona class of quad-core Opterons due out this year, a lot of the attention is turning to AMD's high-end desktop quad.


At the moment, all details on the Phenom X4 chip are of the hush-hush variety, obtained through nefarious practices that wouldn't stand the light of day. Electronista says the raw units will offer 2.2 GHZ and 2.6 GHz, which is less than the Core 2 Extreme, but the HyperTransport system should get that up to 3.6 GHz. The devices can also be paired without requiring a workstation-class mainboard.


Xbit Labs is reporting that the AMD desktop quads will support the DDR2 PC2-8500 standard, which is likely to provide for 1066 MHz memory support under future JEDEC standards. The units will feature native design based on the 65 Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) process.


With a range of quads already out, Intel is pushing greater power efficiency as the way forward. The Xeon X3220 and 3210 server quads and the Core 2 Quad Q6600 all feature new stepping that should allow designers to use flexible motherboards that run at only 95 watts. The chips can also operate safely at higher temperatures, reducing cooling requirements.


What's interesting is watching all this action at the microprocessor level while the outlook for desktops and servers that use them is dim. Sales of both are widely anticipated to take a beating as virtualization takes over.


But just as dual-cores brought out the competitive juices in AMD and Intel, so are the quad-cores carrying on the tradition, and it will no doubt be a pattern the stretches into the future. Can anyone say octi-core?

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