Come June, AMD will augment its appeal by releasing the 2.4GHz Athlon 64 X2 4800+, which will be even faster than the model examined today. And although the company says dual-core isn’t for gamers quite yet, perhaps it is, only in a different usage model. Alan Dang and I were discussing processor benchmarking moving forward and he came up with the idea that we don’t run compute-intensive tasks in the background today because we think they can’t be done. However, if a dual-core processor enables a DVD encode while you’re playing Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, there’s a good chance that the way we think about demanding tasks may change. Even though games aren’t currently threaded, the background processes a dual-core processor enables may very well catapult the technology into favor with game enthusiasts.
One aspect that won’t win AMD any favor with enthusiasts however is X2 pricing. With Athlon 64 X2 models starting at $537, AMD’s asking price is pretty steep. In addition, AMD also admitted to us that retail availability of X2 CPUs will be pretty limited until Q4 of this year. With Intel offering a wider range of desktop Pentium D dual-core processors, and at lower prices than AMD, Intel could enjoy some favorable PR after enduring quite a bit of criticism at the end of last year.
AMD could offset some of this by offering a follow-up product to the Athlon 64 4000+, or introducing lower-cost X2 models, but so far AMD has no plans to do either of these, most likely due to manufacturing constraints (after all, AMD maintains that they’re selling every 64-bit processor they can make).
In any case, AMD’s dual-core Opteron processors are here now, and from a performance perspective, they’re quite impressive. First shipments will be dedicated to the high-end 8-series line, with 1xx and 2xx CPUs following in May.
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