With all the hype
over Dual Core Processors recently, many of you may be wondering if the fuss is
really justified. Considering some of the offerings from Intel and AMD cost
around US$1000, is dual core affordable, and is it right for you.
Rather than bore you with tonnes of technical mumbo jumbo, I will try and
explain Dual Core for Intel and AMD in a manner that wont make your head hurt
yet leave you wiser and feeling good about the world :)
On the Intel side, the Dual Core Pentium IV CPUs are available in 4 models at
this stage. The P4 820 at 2.8 GHz, the 830 at 3.0 GHz, the 840 at 3.2 GHz and
the 840EE. The 840 Extreme Edition is the only one with Hyper Threading. Now,
how Intel has designed these is simple, they take 2 Prescott CPUs and tie them
together with some wire and support chips and presto!, Dual Core. No fancy new
design, no miracle of silicon engineering, just plain old bush mechanics. This
has the advantage of making them cheap, compared to what AMD has to offer, at
least at the slower speeds, on the downside, we have 2 Prescotts and all their
heat and power requirements having to share the one memory bus. Although not the
best solution, it is helped by the introduction of new Chipsets to support it,
firstly the Intel 955 and Nvidia NF4, with the cheaper Intel 945 following soon.
This of course means that a new Motherboard will almost certainly be required.
In the AMD camp, we have the A64 X2, which as usual, comes in many variations
just to confuse us all. There is the 4200+ with 512 K Cache at 2.2 Ghz, the
4400+ at the same speed and 1 Meg Cache, the 4600+ at 2.4 Ghz and 512 K Cache
and finally the 4800+ with 1 Meg Cache at 2.4 Ghz. Unlike Intel, AMD designed
the X2 with both Cores on the one slab of silicon, 2 Cores on 1 Die. While the
memory bus is again shared like Intel, the 2 CPUs are linked as 1, and can talk
to each other without accessing any outside component such as the memory bus.
Further, they have an advanced switch that manages the sharing of resources
beyond the CPU, and has the advantage of fast Hypertransport Links to
communicate with the Subsystems. Unlike Intel and their Dual Core, the Athlon 64
was always designed to be the X2, but 1 Core was left off until technology
allowed it to be archieved in a cost effective manner. Further aiding the AMD side
is the fact the X2 will run on almost all current Socket 939 Motherboards once a
Bios Update appears.
On the next page,
we will do a breakdown on the costs of owning such a "machine" based on the