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Intel Ships Dual-Core Chips

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the good-for-everyone dept.

Intel 340

Torrey Clark writes "Intel seems to be the first to ship a batch of dual core x86 64-bit processors to OEMs. Intel's first dual-core chip is the Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840. The new processor runs at 3.2 GHz, backs Intel's Hyper-Threading and is supported by the company's 955X Express chipsets, formerly code-named Glenwood. Dell also announced that it would be one of the first PC makers to ship Intel's new dual core Pentium Extreme." Reader wyckedone adds "AMD is set to ship their dual core Opteron processor, designed for servers, next week."

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Bleh... Mobile, please! (5, Interesting)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218659)

I want to see dual-core Pentium-Ms.

At the rate that power consumption and heat dissipation are increasing on these chips, I consider Pentium-Ms to be the only processor worth using.

Re:Bleh... Mobile, please! (5, Insightful)

RayDude (798709) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218921)

What I want to see is quantities.

Is this one of those announce and only ship a teeny tiny volume to top OEMs or are these parts really going to be shipping in volume to -- for example -- New Egg.

I guess my question is: did Intel do this announcement just to trump AMD, as they so often do, and not actually have volume silicon?

My prediction is: These will be hard to get, and the AMD parts will be all over the world on the day they announce.


So, how much are they really worth? (5, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218667)

If AMD is shipping in about a week, then one wonders if it's worth paying the Intel price for dual core chips when you can just wait a week and get twice as much for the same price ...

Mind you, it depends on the heat specs.

Re:So, how much are they really worth? (1)

ma_luen (798746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218781)

Uhh, AMD is shipping the opterons next week. They are supposed to be priced in the range of $1500 an up. The intel Extreme Edition is also quite expensive at about $800 IIRC. The first chance to get affordable dual core chips is when intel ships the Pentium D. They are targeting a price range of around $250-$280. But according to Anandtech (there are several nice articles/benchamsrks there) they run quite hot.


Re:So, how much are they really worth? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218867)

are we talking lap burn hot, or server coffeepot hot?

and is that with a good fan or just fin-cooled?

Re:So, how much are they really worth? (2, Insightful)

SkankhodBeeblebrox (581971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218817)

Just in case you haven't been reading any other tech sites in the last week or so...

From ARS Technica []
AMD plans to charge a bit less than twice the price of an equivalent single-core model for each dual-core chip. This puts the aforementioned 875 (2.2GHz 800 series) at an expected $2649 according to CNET, with prices going down from there as you go down in series and in speed grade.

From AnandTech []
A point we made in the first article was that Intel's pricing strategy for dual core is extremely aggressive, with the cheapest 2.8GHz Pentium D soon to be introduced at $241.

While I might concede that the AMD 2.2ghz would probably trounce the 2.8ghz Pentium D, the 10x price premium for the AMD by far outweighs any performance increases. But again, the dual core Opterons aren't intended for home consumers.

Re:So, how much are they really worth? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218887)

While I might concede that the AMD 2.2ghz would probably trounce the 2.8ghz Pentium D, the 10x price premium for the AMD by far outweighs any performance increases. But again, the dual core Opterons aren't intended for home consumers.

Well, at 10 times cheaper, let's grab a few and make a server farm!

Re:So, how much are they really worth? (0)

TechnoWeeniePas (411708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218909)

What do the heat specs really matter? If its designed to run hot than there is no problem with it running hot. As long as it stays within spec and doesnt throttle down performance to stay cool does it really matter what temp the processor runs at?

Re:So, how much are they really worth? (2, Insightful)

Trejkaz (615352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218938)

It does, in a sense that the more heat you waste, the more power you're paying for which never makes its way into useful calculations, and the more expensive cooling equipment you need to get it away from the CPU.

Of course temperature matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218968)

Excess heat == excess power consumption. Cooler components last longer. More heat => more fans => more noise. Nuff said.

Rush to market? (4, Insightful)

jarich (733129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218670)

I thought that AMD is slated to ship their dual core chip first? Is this Intel rushing something to maket?

Re:Rush to market? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218694)

Well, at $3000 for 2.6 speed, maybe they figure they can make a lot of money shipping their Intel chips first.

Let's wait and see if the fab is stable or we have another disaster like when the math registers didn't work for floating point ops ...

Re:486sx (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218984)

The most brilliant marketing spin evar. You have a warehouse full of chips that don't do floating point correctly. What do you do?

Design a motherboard that disables floating point and ramp up the marketing on the "486SX", a chip that "is cheaper because it doesn't have features most users never care about."


Re:Rush to market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218697)

Yes - rush to Maket.. maybe next they will be fist to do something else along those lines.

Re:Rush to market? (4, Informative)

erice (13380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218735)

I think these are the "phony" dual cores. Two dice bonded together in the same package.

Re:Rush to market? (2, Funny)

pla (258480) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218777)

Is this Intel rushing something to maket?

Don't worry, they just need a head-start to prepare for the massive recall (and possible liability suits, depending on how many houses burn down) when the world discoveres what it means to have 250W worth of CPU packed into a square inch of silicon.

Re:Rush to market? (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218842)

it has been speculated that they might just place two normal cores under one heatspreader.. can't know sure untill the reviews hit that open them up.

also.. it could be a paper launch for most parts(paper launch= you launch the product, ship it to reviewers.. but are unable to provide the product in significant numbers to any resellers). they're getting way too popular.

Re:Rush to market? (3, Insightful)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218924)

I thought that AMD is slated to ship their dual core chip first? Is this Intel rushing something to maket?

That's what is known in this business as a paper launch. There aren't really any available on the open market, but Intel gets a ton of ink by announcing now.

AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218675)

What people seem to be obsessed is still the first to market strategy. But what if this turns out to be just the opposite?

Does Moore's law still apply... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218677)

if you multiply how many CPU's the OS sees by the clock rate?

Dual-core w/ hyperthreading = 4 cpus


nah nevermind... I'm already spent. ::towels off and goes back to coding::

Looks like intel rained on AMD's parade.. (4, Insightful)

mp3phish (747341) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218678)

Just last week we were all ment to assume that Dell (oops, I mean Intel) wasn't ready to ship dual core until Q1 of next year...

Now all of a sudden -- out of nowhere -- they launch a surprise attack and shipped the cores early, even before AMD's announced launch date. Sounds like some VERY hefty competition for AMD. They had been claiming all along that they would be the first with dual cores an it was even used as an "excuse" for Dell to talk about starting to sell AMD chips specifically because of this feature.

AMD had better look out! Their stock price will probably take a plunge due to this surprise announcement.

Re:Looks like intel rained on AMD's parade.. (1)

yellowcord (607995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218740)

I don't this is necessarily bad for AMD, I think this is more of intel running scared, pushing something to market just to beat the competition (Pentium 3 1.13 GHz recall anyone?).

I guess time will tell.

Re:Looks like intel rained on AMD's parade.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218743)

Uh, think again knee-jerk-boy. AMD has a tremendous technical and performance advantage. It'll take a LOT more than a 1-week jump on shipping a dual-core Pentium which is still bus-limited in bandwidth to stop AMD. Intel's AMD64 implementation is also crappier than AMD's. Go take a look and read the microarchitectural specs and benchmarks before walking around like Chicken Little.

Re:Looks like intel rained on AMD's parade.. (1)

jm92956n (758515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218837)

PC Magazine published an review [] yesterday of a Dell XPS system with a dual-core processor. The price, at $3999 is high, though that setup includes "extras" like a pair of TV tuners and a 20 inch LCD.

They claimed it's available now (and even provide an "e-value" for it), but I was unable to find it anywhere on Dell's site.

Bottom Line: it's fast. Real fast.

Re:Looks like intel rained on AMD's parade.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218847)

This is still a win for AMD. Intel are shipping dual-core P4EEs, which are a premium-priced gamer-geek chip.

Gamer-geek software isn't going to be seeing the full benefit of dual-core particularly soon.

AMD are shipping their Opteron server chips next week, while dual-core Xeon is a way off yet. Dual-core is a real win in the server market right now, as a number of major software vendors which charge for licences on a per-CPU basis have agreed to charge single-CPU licence fees for each dual core CPU. This essentially means you can pay for 4-way performance from your software at 2-way prices.

That's the competitive advantage of dual-core right now, and Intel aren't even close. Not to mention the fact that the P4EE chips are always HIDEOUSLY expensive.

AMD also have better multi-CPU support than Intel anyway, with Opteron scaling better to larger configurations because of design considerations. So we now have:

Desktop/Gamer market:
AMD64 4000+ vs P4EE dual-core. P4EE will cost you more for limited performance gains (if any) on today's software base. Maybe useful for a minority of content-creation tasks handled on specialist desktops.

Server market:
Dual-core Opteron vs single-core Xeon. Opteron already scales better to larger configurations and is making a nice dent in the market, and with dual-core it makes your software licences from key vendors cheaper too.

If I was an investor in AMD I wouldn't be selling just yet on the basis of this news alone.

Opteron can't be compared. (-1, Troll)

Eunuch (844280) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218679)

Opteron is a server processor--this one seems to be for really rich gamers. AMD seems to be late on this one. They delivered sixty-four bits when the major OS couldn't support it, and now are late in giving end users dual cores.

Re:Opteron can't be compared. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218882)

Very true. I don't really consider AMD to be "late", although both AMD and Intel are late to the dual core. Also, AMD is just focusing on the more profitable server market, I don't blame them if they are getting an extra $700 per chip.

Re:Opteron can't be compared. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218990)

If AMD shipped a dual core Athlon 64 tomorrow, I bet you'd complain that desktop users don't need it. Gamers in particular don't need it.

Hmm..... (1)

thegamerformelyknown (868463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218680)

It will be interesting to see how much difference there is consumer wise between the AMD and the Intel version, not only in performance, but in sales.

AMD Dual Core: Not flamebait, I swear! (2, Informative)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218687)

There's a bunch of interesting information about AMD's dual core offerings over at AnandTech [] . Very insightful read.

From the article. "If dual core Opterons do indeed have two memory controllers, the pincount of dual core Opterons will go up significantly - it will also make them incompatible with current sockets. AMD is all about maintaining socket compatibility so it is quite possible that they could only leave half of the memory controllers enabled, in order to offer Socket-940 dual core Opterons. AMD isn't being very specific in terms of implementation details, but these are just some of the options."

Re:AMD Dual Core: Not flamebait, I swear! (3, Informative)

knightri (841297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218725)

article is a tad old

Re:AMD Dual Core: Not flamebait, I swear! (5, Informative)

MatthewNewberg (519685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218858)

The two processors are going to have seperate L2 cache, but share the memory controllers and HT links. So it will work just like todays chips except for it will have two cores.

Read more about it,,3715_11787,00.html?red ir=CPPA65 []

Re:AMD Dual Core: Not flamebait, I swear! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218866)

No, not flamebait at all...except for the fact that it's just speculation, the article is close to a year old, and you're a troll [] . But hey, what do I know?

Nice attempt at a karma whore, but someone will see through it eventually. I did.

We should be worried (2, Interesting)

elid (672471) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218689)

about manufacturers charging per-core licenses for their software. For more info, read this [] .

Re:We should be worried (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218723)

...and? don't buy a dual core chip then - or buy the software from a competitor.

dual core chips are just that - two cpu's in one packaging, if you somehow as a software manufacturer have come to the conclusion that it makes sense to sell your licenses based on number of cpu's used to run it then it makes also perfect sense that you would charge the same regardless of the cores being on different pieces of plastics or not. otherwise you could just glue the dual cpu's together with a strand of wire and call it dual core(and paint yourself yellow and run around pretending to be bananaman).

Re:We should be worried (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218802)

We should be worried about manufacturers charging per-core licenses for their software.

Why? Double nothing still equals nothing.

Let Larry E and the like go ahead and try to gouge his loyal cusomers even more - All the more motivation to switch to FOSS alternatives.

May I propose... (4, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218690)

..a toast!

Re:May I propose... (4, Funny)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218737)

Great Idea! You bring the processor and I'll bring some bread.

Can someone else bring some jam or marmalade too?

Re:May I propose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218746)

At this point we're past cooking eggs and making toast. We're on to making frajitas.

benefits (1)

Prophetic_Truth (822032) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218696)

Would someone please point out the benefits of running a dual core as opposed to your run of the mill dual or quad motherboard?

Re:benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218763)

Don't have to spend $200 to 400 on a case that sounds like Edwards Airforce Base. Besides the cpu's can talk to "each other" on interal interconnects.

Umm... (3, Insightful)

vile7707 (470358) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218698)

The P-PEE?

Re:Umm... (1)

teh_mykel (756567) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219012)

zomfg, lol. if only i could figure out how to mod i would (then id need points too)

Let the showdown commence! (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218699)

I know we saw an article earlier on slashdot about a preview of Intel's new dual core, but that was on a beta-motherboard. It would be great to see a dualcore P4 go head to head with a dual-Opteron!

Intel is very powerful (1)

thammoud (193905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218702)

At a hedge fund that I used to work for, traders joked that Intel keeps AMD in business just to keep the FTC off its backs. Whenever AMD gained any advantage, Intel just squashed them.

No one expected Intel to beat AMD in dual cores this quickly and be able to release 64bit x86 process at this rate. This is a huge monopoly even more so to some degree than Microsoft.

Re:Intel is very powerful (2, Insightful)

powderbluedictator (822151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218764)

Here are the nuts and bolts of the monopoly: The actual design doesn't matter too much, it is the manufacturing capability that keeps Intel ahead If AMD came out with 64-core, 10 GHz processor that comsumed 1 watt tomorrow, and everyone decided to buy it, AMD would be able to supply more than there current market share because they only have one Fab in Germany Intel has ten fabs and ten times the capaciy. It's not about choice, it about ability to supply that keeps Intel monopoly going

Re:Intel is very powerful (1, Redundant)

powderbluedictator (822151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218818)

ere are the nuts and bolts of the monopoly: The actual design doesn't matter too much, it is the manufacturing capability that keeps Intel ahead

If AMD came out with 64-core, 10 GHz processor that comsumed 1 watt tomorrow, and everyone decided to buy it, AMD would NOT be able to supply more than there current market share because they only have one Fab in Germany

Intel has ten fabs and ten times the capaciy.

It's not about who has a better product, it's about ability to supply that keeps Intel monopoly going

Extreme! (1)

dodem (827889) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218703)

Extreme like extreme sports!

At least... (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218718)

it will be more cost effective to crunch ET's calling cards.

Heatsinks (3, Funny)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218719)

Maybe I should invest in the heatsink business. I see a huge future in it thanks to Intel and AMD's dual core plans...

Re:Heatsinks (1)

thegamerformelyknown (868463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218736)

mmmmm, meter wide heatsinks :)

Why go for CMP and skip SMT? (4, Interesting)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218728)

While the idea of dual core cpus is really cool, and will take over shortly due in part to the fact that we need something to do with all those extra transistors, I wonder why the focus of the industry is on chip multi-processors (CMP).

While CMP processors can give us rougly the same performance of a standard SMP system (somewhat faster due to interprocessor communication and shared memory, but also slower due to a larger memory bottleneck) I don't think that a CMP system would compete with a simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) solution.

While Intel's response to SMT (hyperthreading) has some benifits the performance of it is rather lackluster. The reason has more to do with their particular implementation. If you've read about the initial observations on SMT an 8-way SMT processor was shown to outperform a 4-way CMP processor. Now, I must note that the 8-way smt processor had more functional units then the cores in the 4-way CMP processor, but the overall area of the 8-way SMT processor would be much much smaller (far less structures need to be duplicated for SMT as opposed to CMP). For more information on this check out some of the papers at .

What I don't understand is the insistance of the industry to use CMP first. From everything I've read, an 8-way SMT processor should take up less die space then a two way CMP processor. Even assuming that the 8 way processor contains more functional units. It kind of makes sense that a CMP processor is faster when there aren't enough threads to fully utilize a SMT processor (say only 2 or 3 threads that want full cpu usage). I guess SMT is a big chance in the model of programming and application development (I'm currently running research on the subject which is why I'm so interested in it). Is the reason to embrace CMPs simply because there's less new technology to add (they "just" have to interconnect two cores as opposed to adding the extra logic for SMT).

Does anyone else have any other opinions regarding this matter, or any idea why no one seems to be fully embracing SMT's potential?

Re:Why go for CMP and skip SMT? (5, Informative)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218760)

SMT is only needed if your execution units are having trouble remaining filled up, which was the problem with the NetBurst architecture due to the huge hits that it takes with a branch mis-prediction penalty. When a mis-predict happens the execution unit has to sit idling away and wait for the proper info to go be re-fetched. With SMT, the unit simply switches over to one of the other threads waiting in the wings which keeps the processor doing useful work instead of wasting cycles. This is why the software has to be re-written to take advantage of it so that the processor knows which threads to give priority to.

Intel stuck SMT into the Pentium in order to balance out the some of the negative effects the go hand-in-hand with a processor that has a LONG pipeline. AMD has a much shorter pipeline (especially when compared to the new Prescott) and therefore they don't suffer much of a penalty when a mis-predict happens. Also, if I remember correctly the Athlon was already known being extremely efficient in terms of resource allocation within the processor since AMD can't afford to just dump tons of extra cache onto the chip.

Both of these things taken together means that using up extra real estate on the die of the Athlon in order to get SMT isn't really worth it in terms of the performance it would bring. Even on the Pentium the benefits aren't all that hot and it's only in specific types of code that you see any impresive speed gains.

Re:Why go for CMP and skip SMT? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218811)

Go with both. CMP is easier to actually do, and the space is there, booya. And in the mean time SMT can be developed, designed and tested in ever more complex devices. The explosion of avialable threads will drive a change in software development, solving old problems in novel ways, old problems that couldn't be solved economically, and creating a few new problems on the way.

Re:Why go for CMP and skip SMT? (2, Interesting)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218822)

A couple of thoughts as to why CMP is favoured right now:

* Easier to just replicate a core you've already designed then design a new bigger core. Improves time to market, reduces costs, reduces probability of implementation bugs.
* Easier to achieve high clock rates if your core is smaller than if it's a huge monolithic SMT core - may achieve higher overall performance (at least, for a given investment in development or for current apps).
* The manufacturers may have done their own evaluation and come to slightly different conclusions for the workloads they are targetting.

Re:Why go for CMP and skip SMT? (1)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218849)

The reason is because going from idea to silicon is BIG, BIG, BIG time & money drain. You can't just throw an engineer or two at the theoretical design and get a silicon mask for the fab. You have to take in account issues such as heat. With more functional units (and more instructions feeding those units) you will generate a LOT of heat. Then there is the question of line delay (RC). With all the extra logic (more register files or other stuff the different implementations add) you may have to drastically drop the clock rate which offsets any gains from the multiple threads. But we don't know until we try, and that requires months (or years) of a large team of highly paid engineers. Intel has the money to do that (and they might be, I don't know) but it's all still in the R&D stages. And even more intersting idea is DSMT (dynamic simultaneous multithreading) since that's an area I'm working on for my thesis :)

Re:Why go for CMP and skip SMT? (1)

psavo (162634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218977)

One easy exmplanation is that defect rate goes exponential with bigger die size. So multiple cores will be simpler and have bigger chance of survival than a multiplethreaded core, even if latter takes less total space.

Dual core w/ hyperthreading? (1)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218733)

I tried to look through the article, but couldn't find it... does this mean that you will have 4 "virtual cores" on one single chip now?

I remembered a slashdot from a while back about licensing for multiple processor setups, but would this quadruple the cost even though it's a single chip!

Though, it will be neat to see 4 CPU usage graphs in XP's task manager. :)

Re:Dual core w/ hyperthreading? (4, Informative)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218783)

I tried to look through the article, but couldn't find it... does this mean that you will have 4 "virtual cores" on one single chip now?

Yes, but only for the Pentium Extreme Edition. The Pentium D, which should come out soon, won't have HyperThreading enabled.

Re:Dual core w/ hyperthreading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218848)

Microsoft has said they weren't changing their licensing, and as far as their concerned the number of CPUs is always equal to the number of occupied sockets.

That said, this could be a hassle for make config unless you pay for the particular distro membership in a lot of cases.

Re:Dual core w/ hyperthreading? (1)

mobiux (118006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218853)

I see 4 now on a dual processor server w/ hyperthreading.
I am waiting for the 8 graphs when you get 2 dual core chips with hyperthreading.

I don't think licensing applies to the virtual processors that hyperthreading brings in.

AMD has allready got dual core out the door (1)

asaul (98023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218888)

I saw a screenshot yesterday of a 8 way dual core Opteron box showing 16 graphs.

Cant say where though.

Compatibility (5, Funny)

RichiP (18379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218742)

Yes, but my question is "Will it be AMD-compatible?" ^_^

Intel ships -- right! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218752)

Intel ships the chips no one is buying. How real is that?

Advantages of multi-core (4, Interesting)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218757)

I see lots of conversation comparing this generation of processor to space heaters, wisecracks about Longhorn minimum systems (that actual article was about the predicted "average", not minimum). Not much about actual multi-cores. They're an interesting direction to go.

The current direction of single core CPUs is basically running into the most they can do with XUs, MPUs, caches, etc. Sure, you can decrease the pipeline depth below the 18FO4 that the PentiumIV supposedly has, and that can help you with serial data paths, and that makes simple XUs, MPUs, etc. faster, but the branch mispredict is still horrendous -- perhaps too high for a general purpose processor found in our PCs. The more complicated logic is possible to do, but there's only so much you can do with the data and sub-Angstrom logic.

Beyond the geek factor, multiple cores on a single die attack the same problems as putting SMP did in the first place (plus a few race conditions that otherwise may have been very rare), allowing much less manpower to design a processor that is still much faster in the end. A single threaded application will seem slower, and that will place more burden on the developers to see the light of multiple threads. Instead of allowing an XU to munge through and deal with a single thread at a time, which may be a misuse of incredible resource (like a thread that said "go to grocery store" and the XU was a race car), multiple die have correspondingly multiple XUs each with their own resources, so hard tasks can be spread across multiple cores, or simple ones can get executed in parallel with others (like a thread can take a Kia to the grocery store while another Kia goes to the Post Office). Of course, problems that cannot be divided into multiple threads do not see the advantage of multiple cores, but other tasks remain responsive without requiring a monster task to context switch.

I've read about multiple cores that share a single L2 outperforming multiple cores with dedicated L2s in specific tasks, basically one core essentially acts like a pre-fetch core under a workload and the second core can reap the benefits.

Faster processors... (2, Insightful)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218776)

I would rather have faster processors than multiple cores, as it is not enough is multi-threaded. Even the highest end 3D apps, their render engines are SMP capable, but all geometry translation/deformation is not. That would be one core right? Unless multiple cores could show up as one single core/proc in the OS..

Re:Faster processors... (1)

boingyzain (739759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218790)

I would rather have faster processors than multiple cores

The way I see it, every CPU package has essentially a 'thermal envelope' that you can't go beyond without drastically changing case designs or cooling methods. For passively cooled CPU's this would be in the order of 10W, for actively cooled CPU's the ~100W figures for some desktop Pentium 4's are pushing the limit.

Instead of pushing things like BTX cases or watercooling, I'd rather see chipmakers use new technology to improve thermal/power ratio of their chips. I don't need a CPU that's 3 times as fast, upping power consumption once again. Give me a CPU that does twice the work using a smaller amount of energy.

There's lots of room for improvement here. Examples: when a CPU sits idle, does that mean a drastic drop in power consumption? In many cases: no. Win9x systems drop into a full power no-op running loop, and 'halt' state power consumption only works well with newer CPU's when chipsets are configured to enable a low-power state. Often, this isn't the case, for whatever reason.
Then take mobile CPU's (in same physical package), and features like varying core voltage with CPU load (Speedstep, PowerNow! or whatever). Nice, but many desktop motherboards or BIOS'es don't support it, or have it disabled. IMHO, chipmakers like AMD or Intel would better focus on improved motherboard/chipset/BIOS support for these things (through co-operation with mobo makers), than just making their CPU's faster.

And yes, I do know AMD is on the right track here with their x86-64 chips ('Cool 'n Quiet'). Maybe one reason their desktop market share is doing so well lately? I'd go for it, anyway.

My epiphany... (5, Interesting)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218801)

Has anyone stopped to look at modern software while thinking about Dual-Core?

Both Intel and AMD have decided upon dual-core as the future of desktop computing. There will be no more massive Mhz increases... instead the focus is now on parallel computing.... But, seriously, how many CPU intensive applications outside of the server arena take advantage of SMP?

As someone who has ran dual-cpu workstations for years, I can personally attest to the fact that 99% of CPU heavy tasks do not make use of SMP.

Think about it... That copy of Doom3 or Half-Life 2 that you just bought, that runs like shit on even top-of-the-line hardware, isn't going to run any better on Dual-Core, because these games are not designed to run multiple threads simultaneously. Neither do most archival programs (WinAce, WinRar, WinZip, SevenZip, etc etc). Nor do many of your encoding tools (though FlaskMPEG and GoGo-No-Coda are noteworthy exceptions).

As a geek, I can attest that the *nix arena isn't much better. Just because the source is open and available does NOT mean that the author(s) ever considered coding CPU intensive tasks for multiple processors. And "porting" tasks from single threaded to multiple threads is NOT a simple task. This is one of the reasons that there are Computer Science degrees -- writing good SMP code isn't something you learn at technical schools (or even half the full Universities out there).

Don't get me wrong... as someone who has ran SMP boxes for the past 10 years, I'm really excited about Dual-Core. But don't expect it to be worth a whole lot for the immediate future... as no one outside the server arena really codes for SMP.

Re:My epiphany... (2, Insightful)

boingyzain (739759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218823)

Frankly, I'm bewildered at the responses here resisting the change to SMP. I've never understood the focus on pure MHz as opposed to parallelism and MHz. Anyone on an SMP box that is multitasking sees the benefits of SMP immediately. You can work with a completely responsive system even when you have a compute-intensive non-SMP-aware process hogging a CPU. This is not the case with single CPU sysems.

What we have here is simply the fact that, as always, software is years behind the hardware it runs on. This is a classic chicken-and-the-egg situation. "There's no SMP software, so why by a dual?" vs. "Nobody has SMP hardware, so why write SMP-aware apps?".

Thankfully, there are many SMP-aware apps available, not even getting to the fact that with single-threaded apps on SMP you can for example encode video and do other CPU-intensive tasks simultaneously and at their "native" speeds.

Games are probably the worst example to use for touting SMP benefits because they are written with the single-CPU mindset. This is a software shortcoming, yet many posters see this is a flaw of SMP? Silly. If you're using games as an SMP detraction, then you're not the target for SMP until the software is written to take advantage of SMP. Again, this is a software shortcoming, not a hardware flaw.

Then we have the "well office-type users have no need for SMP". Well, that may be true, but so is the fact that office use does not require >1GHz CPU's, yet offices are filled with >1GHz machines. The nature of the "CPU business" is such that your products must constantly improve, or you will soon become irrelevant. You can only make CPU's run so fast in the physical world, so after you've wrung all the easy MHz gains out of a process, what's the next "easy" gain? Parallelism. We don't expect Intel, AMD, et al to just say "Well, that's it, we can make them no faster", do we? Heck no. Instead of more MHz, we now have more cores. The software will follow, and in the meantime the hardware is usuable now.

The fact of the matter is this: there are real, physical limitations to the manufacture of ever higher speed CPU's. We're going to hit the brick wall shortly using current processes, so the next logical step is to parallelize the CPU. If you can't make 'em faster, then you divide and conquer.

As someone who runs a few SMP systems, I, for one, welcome our dual-core overlords. So I can run dual-core? Heck no, that's for the gamers and office-workers ;). I'll settle for no less than dual dual-cores, getting more accomplished in a shorter frame of time with little to no effort on my part.

This will lower the barrier of entry for SMP use for the masses. After they are dragged, kicking and screaming to SMP, people will notice a smoother, more productive computing environment. Also, us dual-CPU folk can now move up to quad cores with relatively little additional expense. As SMP moves into the mainstream, the software will follow. Any programmer worth his salt knows that it is trivial to parallelize many compute intensive tasks such as media encoding/manipulation, imaging, rendering etc. Now that the hardware is (almost) here, the apps will follow.

I am sincerely interested in hearing any response to these points I've made.

Re:My epiphany... (2, Insightful)

Beolach (518512) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218915)

I see it as a chicken/egg problem. You bet your booty Doom3 & Half-Life 2 could perform significantly better on multiple CPU cores - if they were designed to. So why aren't they designed to? Because there was not a significant market for multiple-CPU-core games. Once Intel & AMD's dual core CPUs hit the market, that will likely change, and we will see games & other applications start taking advantage of multiple cores, even though in their current incarnations they don't.

Re:My epiphany... (1)

Beolach (518512) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218931)

Oh, and the other half of the chicken/egg scenario... why haven't we seen dual core CPUs previously? Because there was no demand, because most applications (other than servers) were not designed to take advantage of multiple cores.

Re:My epiphany... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218923)

As someone who has ran dual-cpu workstations for years, I can personally attest to the fact that 99% of CPU heavy tasks do not make use of SMP.

As soneone else who has run dual-CPU for the past 5+ years and would never even consider going back, I would point out that unless you still run DOS, more than one CPU means you can run more than one CPU-hungry app at a time.

Even when only performing a single task, overall system responsiveness goes way up. And when actually pushing both/all CPUs to their limit, responsiveness goes from "none" to "still acceptible".

isn't going to run any better on Dual-Core, because these games are not designed to run multiple threads simultaneously

But actually, they will run better, because all the little things going on in the background will no longer compete with them for CPU time - Or perhaps more importantly, for L1 cache.


Actually, 7zip does support multithreading, you just need to set it as an option (or use "-mmt" for the command line version).
But no, most individual software packages, considered in isolation, won't gain all that much from multiple cores, I agree with you on that. But the overall user experience will improve drastically.

Re:My epiphany... (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218940)

I am surprised someone who ran smp didn't pick up on the single greatest benefit of it: Multitasking. True multitasking.

I can play wow ( 100% proc util ), and browse thot at the same time without an issues. Actually, I do pretty much anything else as well as play WoW, and there are no slow downs.

SMP isn't about speeding crap up, it's about making the system overall more responsive.

Toss in a ton of ram and SCSI, and you've got a small super powered slice of heaven.

Re:My epiphany... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219037)

I'll second the chicken/egg thing. Supposedly some of the more intensive Mac apps became multithreaded because that was the only way to increase performance, and that lots of Powermacs were being sold with it. I think we could see some games take advantage of it. The reason we haven't is because there weren't a whole lot of gamers that ran dual CPU. I kind of hoped that hyperthreading would have helped push multithreaded apps, but it wasn't that much of an improvement.

It will take a while.

II ggoott oonnee...... (5, Funny)

isny (681711) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218806)

aanndd iitt sseemmss ttoo rruunn rreeaallyy ffaasstt!! FFiirreeffooxx sseemmss ttoo rreessppoonndd rreeaallyy wweellll.... lloovvee dduuaall ccoorreess..

Programs...? (0)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218815)

I ran dual P3s for a while last year. While I loved the responsiveness of the system, I hated the lack of programs avalible to take advantage of SMP.

How is this year going to be different?

Even if you *could* get SMP aware versions of your software, would it be worth it? Lots of problems are harder to solve when you add SMP to the mix.

Gamers will be put off by the fact that games can't take advantage of SMP.

Home users will be put off by the fact that their $500 Dell surfs the world-wide e-mail just fine.

Business user may take advantage of this in servers, but there's only so much cooling and power you can provide to a 1-U server.

So, how is dual core going to ever be anything bigger than Itanium, Xeon, or any of the other technologies that fail to meet customer expectations?

Re:Programs...? (1)

rookworm (822550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218926)

For me, system responsiveness is my number one performance gripe. I hate to spend a lot of time waiting for the system to respond to mouse clicks, but I couldn't care less if it takes 70 seconds or 50 seconds to encode an mp3. As far as most ordinary users are concerned, multicore's effects upon UI responsiveness is more than worth it.

Re:Programs...? (1)

MatthewNewberg (519685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218939)

I think the focus for most programmers (and game programmers included) is to go multi-threaded since both AMD and Intel are really pushing this solution for speeding up programs.

There is also a movement to make Multi Threading easier with things such as Open MP [] . It looks like the future will be good for SMP applications.

I just figured it out (2, Funny)

thundercatslair (809424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218816)

Intel is leading in chip sales because their processors are Extreme

Re:I just figured it out (2, Funny)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218929)

Yes, but are they extreme..... to the MAXX!?

Physics coprocessors doomed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218835)

If dual core CPUs become popular, would they end the need for a physics co-processor (before it's even a need)? Wouldn't one of the CPUs be able to handle that?

Picture This (-1, Redundant)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218841)

Today's CPUs are, in the final analysis, little different than the 386 launched in 1985. Notable exceptions are in details like feature size and operating frequency. Other significant differences are in the pipelining logic, crufted on instruction sets (mmx anyone?) that are rarely called into action, cache and pinouts.

Now, take a step back and imagine what a classic 386 would look like on a .09 micron process... consider that the 386 had 275,000 transistors- compared to the P4s 42 million. You could fit around 150 386s in the space (on the die) of a single P4.

Now, of course there are many advances to consider over the 386, but fundamentally, that processor logic is capable of handling 99% of 32 bit computing tasks. They may have done so slowly, but there you are.

My thinking is, they could use some of this old logic, buff it up a little to accomodate some modern techniques and carve it all into a single die. Imagine a CPU with 64 simple processors, 4Mb of cache and some controlling logic running at 3-5 Ghz. All this in the space of and at the (manufacturing) cost of a single P4.

This chip could be used in clusters like nobody's business. An array of 128 of these processors could simultaneously handle 8,192 active threads.

What use would it be? Off the top of my head, this would be perfect for real-time monitoring, transaction processing, switching and so forth. There would also be serious advantages in the desktop space as compilers and kernels were built to adapt to the new distribution of resources. Image processing could be handled using the same techniques as SLI cards use to split the tasks up over two or more video cards, and any other large body of data could be simlarly broken up. Compilers would be designed to break a program up not into a paltry 2 or 3 threads, but into dozens. Speed and responsiveness would skyrocket, while fab costs and board speeds remained stable.

This might be the logical outcome of the current drift towards multiple CPUs per die, and it could also unite and surpass the schools of CISC vs RISC, as strategies from both would benefit the endeavor.

Re:Picture This (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12218972)

This has been studied, but you get more like 8 cores, not 64. Look up the DEC Piranha or Sun Niagara.

Compilers would be designed to break a program up not into a paltry 2 or 3 threads, but into dozens.

Assuming that was possible, which it isn't.

130 watts!! (-1, Troll)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218855)

The jokes about the heat these puppies will pump out couldn't be more appropriate. An article at Tom's states [] that the Smithfield core has a thermal design power of 130W making it by far the hottest x86 CPU ever seen.

In contrast, AMD's dual core offering will offer no increase in TDP over their present single core designs.

One possible multi-threaded benefit (2, Interesting)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218873)

I would like to see a more multi-threaded approach to game programming in general, and not all the benefits would necessarily be about performance.

One thing that has bugged me a long time about a lot of games (this has particular relevence to multi-player games, but also single player games to some extent) is the 'game loading' screen. Or rather, the fact that during the 'loading' screen I lose all control of, and ability to interact, with the program.

It has always seemed to me, that it should be possible, with a sufficiently clever multi-threaded approach, to create a game engine where I could, for example, keep chatting with other players while the level/zone/map that I'm transitioning to is being loaded.

Or maybe I really want to just abort the level load and quit the game, because something important in Real Life has just started occuring and I want to just kill the game and move on. With most games, you have to wait until it is done loading before you can then quit out of the game.

In other words, even ignoring performance benefits for a moment, if a game engine is correctly multi-threaded, I could continue to have 'command and control', and chat, functionality while the game engine, in another thread, is loading models and textures.

Dual Core Gaming (1)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218874)

One has to wonder if this is going to provide Intel with a competitive edge against Sony's Cell processor in the gaming front...

Re:Dual Core Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219011)

Don't you mean that this will make games run as badly on Intel processors as on Cell? Multicore isn't good for games, but it's the only direction the industry knows how to go in.

BTW, how many times are you going to post in this thread?

Meanwhile back in PPC land (0)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218890)

I find this interesting, every machine Apple sells except at the definite low end is dual CPU SMP now, and it's been this way for awhile. Now Intel/AMD seem to be realizing "oh yeah, dual cpus, maybe that's something we should start targeting for the mass market instead of just the high end" (though AMD seems to be pretty comfy with the idea already). I wonder why Apple doesn't seem interested in dual cores though. Intel/AMD seem to be treating multicore tech as their way of getting SMP out of the power-user range, Apple doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with it even though POWER has had multicore ability for a really long time. What's up with this, is there something I'm missing?

Re:Meanwhile back in PPC land (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219031)

I wonder why Apple doesn't seem interested in dual cores though. ... Apple doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with it...

Says who?

Games and Multiple Cores (4, Interesting)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218900)

As already mentioned games already do make use of the GPU and the CPU so we're fairly used to some mutliprocessor concerns.

To say that most PC games are GPU bound however is a mistake - most games I've come across (and worked on as a games core technology/graphics programmer) are CPU bound - often in the rendering pipeline trying to feed that GPU.

Anyhow games are already becoming dual-core aware. Most if not all multiplayer games make use of threads for there network code - go dual core (or hyperthreading) and you get a performance win. Again most sound systems are multi threaded often with a streaming/decompression thread, again a win on multi core. These days streaming of all manner of data is becoming more important (our game worlds are getting huge) and so again we will be (are) making use of dual core there too.

I personally have spent a fair amount of time performance enhancing our last couple of games (mostly for HT but the same applies to true dual core) to make sure we get the best win we can. For example on dual core machines our games do procedural texture effects on the second core that you just don't get on a single core machine and still get a 20% odd win over single core. I'm sure most software houses take this as seriously as us and do the same. It's very prudent for us to do so - the writings been on the wall about multi processors being the future of top end performance for a while now.

At the end of the day though us games developers have little choice but to embrace multi core architectures and get the best performance we can. We always build software that pushes the hardware to the full extent of it's known limits because that's the nature of the competition.

Just think what the next generation of consoles is going to do for the games programmers general knowledge of concurrent programming techniques. If we're not using all of the cores on our next gen XBox or PS3 then our competition will be and our games will suck in comparison.

HyperThreading and Dual Core? (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218901)

Does anyone know how HT and dual cores will work? Will it appear as 4 processors (2*2) or still at only 2, but with better performance? HT is one of my favorite processor improvements of late, things just seem to run smoother with it.

I did read TFA, but didn't see this.

Re:HyperThreading and Dual Core? (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218945)

It appears as 4 processors.

Performance plateau and functional programming (-1)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218908)

I believe that we're going to see a performance plateau with processors and raw CPU power for the next 5 years or so.

The only way CPU manufacturers are going to get more *OPS in the future is with many cores, and that's going to require either slower or the same kind of speeds (GHz-wise) as things are today. To get programs to run faster under these circumstances you need some kind of explicitly parallel programming.

We haven't seen the right level of parallelism yet, IMHO. Unix started out with process-level parallelism, but it looks like thread-level paralellism has beaten it, even though it is much more prone to programmer errors.

On the other end of the scale, EPIC architectures like Itanium haven't been able to outcompete older architectures like x86 because the explicitly parallel can be made implicit with clever run-time analysis of code. Intel (and, of course, AMD) are their own worst enemy on the Itanium front. All the CPU h/w prediction etc. removes the benefit of the clever compiler needed for EPIC.

Maybe some kind of middle ground can be reached between the two. Itanium instructions work in triples, and you can effectively view the instruction set as programming three processors working in parallel but with the same register set. This is close (but not quite the same) to what's going to be required to efficiently program multi-core CPUs, beyond simple SMP-style thread-level parallelism. Maybe we need some kind of language which has its concurrency built in (something sort of akin to Concurrent Pascal, but much more up to date), or has no data to share and can be decomposed and analyzed with complete information via lambda calculus. I'm thinking of the functional languages, like ML (consider F# than MS Research is working on), or Haskell.

With a functional language, different cores can work on different branches of the overall graph, and resolve them independentantly, before they're tied together later on.

It's hard to see the kind of mindset changes required for this kind of thinking in software development happening very quickly, though.

We'll see. Interesting times.

Marketing : Sparc and PowerPC catch up (-1, Redundant)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218914)

In terms of "marketing speak", this is a good opportunity for Sparc and PowerPC chips to catch up to the X86 architecture.

Thanks to Intel's own marketing, most users are used to seeing that Mhz = power, and Apple suffers from the fact that the G5 tops out at 2.5Ghz, while Intel chips cruise along at 3+Ghz. Sun's SPARC architecture suffers from the same illusion, although comparably, both the Sparc and PPC architectures are quite close to X86 in terms of actual horsepower (not so much with Sparc, but Sun's true power is total throughput and reliablity and scalability, not flops).

With Intel "stuck" at around 4Ghz, IBM/Apple could figure out how to ramp up the G5 (or it's successor) to 4+Ghz, and beat Intel at it's own marketing game.

Similarly, this bump in the roadmap for Intel could be the opportunity for other/alternative CPU architectures to gain some marketshare.

No, you don't want a hetrogeneous multiprocessor (1, Interesting)

gangofwolves (875288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218919)

Having two non-identical CPUs in the same package, or in the same machine, isn't that useful. Typically, the "wierd" ones sit idle unless whatever application that specifically uses them is running. The operating system usually has no idea what to do with the "wierd" processor, so it gets managed as a peripheral, which doesn't work very well.

There were some wierd Mac variations in the 1980s with a second CPU on a plug-in board. They could run Photoshop faster, but otherwise were useless.

There are really only two multi-CPU architectures that are generally useful: shared-memory symmetrical multiprocessors, and networked clusters with no shared memory. Many other architectures have been tried - partially shared memory machines, shared-memory machines where some CPUs lacked some features like floating point, hypercubes, single-instruction-multiple-datastream machines, and dataflow processors. None has achieved lasting success.

About the only unusual architecture ever sold in volume is the Playstation 2, with two vector processors. Even there, the vector processors are mostly used as a GPU. (Although one major game physics engine actually runs in the PS2 vector processors, an impressive achievement.)

Programming for wierd architectures is hard, requires much tool development, and results in programs tied to specific hardware. So it doesn't happen much. That's why the wierd architectures fail. They're never that much faster, and by the time the software works, the hardware market is somewhere else.

Hmm (1)

MHobbit (830388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218942)

Intel began to ship dual core processors on April 11th; I submitted an article about it, but it was rejected.

In any case, I guess I'll have to home-build a computer with those Intel dual core processors soon.

Reason for not liking Intel (2, Funny)

crottsma (859162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218954)

I'm not particularly fond of Intel. My father used to beat me as a child with an Intel processor.

Question (2, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219022)

Okay, sorry about the dumb ass question here, but I can't seem to find an answer:

Are AMD's and/or Intel's processors supposed to work in existing motherboards (err at least with SOME benefit...) or does upgrading to a dual core machine mean getting a new mobo?
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