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Ready for multi-core? New quad-core chips slated for 2007

Intel, AMD announce delivery plans for faster, four-core processors.

Dual-core processors have barely had time to cook, but already the big chip makers are heating up the race for multi-core.

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The future of multi-core processors

Intel Corp. has said it will ship its first four-core microprocessor, code-named Clovertown, by the end of this year. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) said its quad-core chip will be ready by 2007. Both see the importance of the hardware, which offers speed and cooling advantages, according Martin Reynolds, an analyst with Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn., research firm.

"They are well on the path to delivering," Reynolds said. "Delivery of multiple cores, in a way, is easy because it's just extra copies of the existing processor."

Intel, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., is feeling the pressure from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD, Reynolds said. In a podcast on the Intel Web site, Justin Rattner, the company's chief technology officer, demonstrated a dual processor server with a pair of the quad-core chips. Each processor showed a total of eight active threads working together simultaneously.

Reynolds said the doubling of cores is the new expression of Moore's Law. Cores are expected to double on processors at a rate of about every year and a half, he said.

More cores mean applications can run twice as fast. Reynolds noted that existing platforms, such as Windows XP and NT, were all equipped for multi-core.

"What they aren't ready for is 16 cores, but Longhorn may correct this," he said.

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