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AMD will on Tuesday launch its first processors operating with “two brains” for desktop PCs, five days after its bigger rival Intel unveiled its own dual-core line-up.
The two leading processor makers have been in fierce competition over the past year to be first to market with next-generation models that offer 64-bit rather than 32-bit architectures and two cores instead of one.
The battle is now moving from enterprise servers to consumer PCs and the rivals' strategies differ. The cheapest AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor is more than twice the price of Intel's base model. But it is more powerful and, unlike Intel's offering, it can plug straight into existing motherboards rather than requiring a new one.
Intel's dual-core processors start at $241 for one running at a speed of 2.8GHz to $530 for a 3.2GHz processor. AMD's 4200 processor runs at the equivalent of 4.2GHz, according to the company, and costs $531, rising to the 4800, costing $1,001.
Analysts say Intel has priced its products to appeal to mainstream users, and major PC makers such as HP and Dell are introducing them in systems. AMD has priced and powered its processors to appeal to power users including gamers, a smaller niche. “We want to get validation in the marketplace with the early adopters and then we'll bring it into the mainstream,” says Jonathan Seckler, product manager.
Intel's processors are in four out of five PCs sold. It has adopted a platformisation strategy that will see its dual-core versions bundled with chipsets that offer improved multimedia capabilities, such as high-definition television and surround sound for Windows Media Center PCs.