Megahertz will take you only so far. Desktop processors topped the 1GHz mark in 2000, 2GHz in 2001, and 3GHz in 2002. Six years later, we've yet to see a chip leave the factory clocked at 4GHz. Power demands and heat concerns meant that AMD and Intel couldn't simply keep ramping up clock speeds with each new CPU generation without running into design obstacles with desktops and especially with laptops.
Having come to the end of the megahertz rope, Intel and AMD looked to other methods for increasing processing power while maintaining or improving efficiency, the most significant of which was increasing the number of processing cores on a CPU. The multicore era began in spring 2005 with Intel's Pentium D 800 dual-core chips, and AMD soon followed with the Athlon 64 X2 chips. AMD dominated the initial round of head-to-head benchmarks, and Intel's subsequent Pentium D 900 series, released in the fall of 2005, did little to dampen the enthusiasm for AMD's X2 line.
AMD's run was short-lived as Intel sped back in the lead in 2006. Intel released the first dual-core mobile chip with Core Duo in January of that year, which brought about huge advances in laptop performance. Following that success, its Core 2 Duo launch in the summer of 2006--for both desktops (Conroe) and laptops (Merom)--can arguably be called the most successful product launch in the company's history. AMD is still reeling. Its Phenom chips have done nothing to change the situation as Intel continues to lead the microprocessor field with its Penryn-class CPUs.
Will AMD find a way to combat the runaway hit that is Core 2 Duo? What advances does Intel have in store later this year and next? How will each company expand on its multicore technology? We'll answer these questions and more as we explore Intel's and AMD's road maps, both the officially announced technologies around the corner and the rumors of those still a number of exits over the horizon.
|H1 2008|| || |
|H2 2008|| || |
|2009 and beyond|| || |
|Recap: dawn of multicore era|| || |