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Intel expects to ship millions of dual-core Pentium D processors this year for use in mainstream consumer PCs. Intel's business platform will not adopt dual-core technology until next year.
The Intel announcements came today as rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. plans on Tuesday to unveil availability of its AthlonX2 processor line, its first dual-core offerings for the PC market.
Gerald Holzhammer, VP of Intel's digital home group and general manager of the consumer client group, says that the company expects to ship 100,000 dual-core Pentium D processors into the consumer market by the end of the second quarter, and millions in the second half.
"The PC has become like a server for the home," Holzhammer said in a press conference Thursday. "Dual core will make a real impact on the marketplace."
Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research, says that comparing the dual-core PCs to servers is an appropriate comparison. "Servers tend to operate in an inherently multithreaded environment where you have lots of different processors," he says. "In home PCs, you'll now have the ability of running some of those dedicated applications like a personal video recorder on a dual-core system with one core more or less devoted to that application."
The home PC platform will include the Pentium D processor and the 945 Express Chipset with support for such consumer electronics feature as surround-sound audio, high-definition video, and enhanced graphics.
Intel's 2005 Professional Business Platform will utilize the single-core Pentium 4 processor with hyper-threading technology and the 945 Express Chipset.
Gregory Bryant, general manager of Intel's business client group and digital enterprise group, said the new business platform would conform to its stable image platform program, which requires periods of qualification before new technologies like the dual-core processors are added to the mainstream offerings. "These mainstream business customers are interested in a platform that is stable even though it may not have some of the latest technology," he says. "It is clear we are bringing all the elements together, validating them, making sure they work with the ecosystem, and enabling a package that has clear benefits beyond just CPU performance. This is really the cornerstone to our strategy going forward."
Mike Feibus, an analyst with TechKnowledge Strategies Inc., says he doesn't believe the current design of the dual-core Pentium D processor will ever be used in mainstream business platforms. The current Pentium D design, he says, was a "quick-to-market" design that basically glued two separate processors inside a single chip, rather than a more elegant "from scratch" dual-core design. "The next turn of the screw for Intel will be a dual-core processor that was truly designed from the ground up," Feibus says. "This current [Pentium D] design is a much more costly way to provide dual core. They'll be able to produce dual-core processors more efficiently and with less silicon real estate going forward."
McCarron says shipping a million dual-core Pentium D processors in 2005 is a realistic projection for Intel, which currently ships more than 40 million processor per quarter. "There are users who simply want to have the best, and Intel will present dual-core as the premium," he says.
Applications that have multiple threads, which are often found in areas like video encoding, will be able to take particular advantage of the dual-core PC processor, McCarron says. Applications that are generally single-thread, such as video games, will reap fewer advantages from dual-core processing.
That is why AMD doesn't plan to begin offering a dual-core version of its Athlon FX, which is used heavily in gaming environments, says Teresa de Onis, desktop branding manager for AMD. "Gamers already understand that Athlon FX offers the best performance for games," she says. "We believe that will also be the case in digital media with the AthlonX2."