The highlight of the new CPU architectures is that AMD said it will be moving beyond dual-core chips to quad core and beyond. As more and more software becomes multithreaded (Windows Vista, for example), adding more processing cores will yield more and more performance gains. And as CPU manufacturing uses smaller and smaller processes, as it always seems to, both AMD and Intel will be able to fit an ever-growing number of CPU cores on each chip package. In other words, we're heading toward a multicore world, so you'd better get used to it.
While we always appreciate road map briefings, Socket 4x4 will have a more immediately impact. Set for a release in the latter half of this year, it essentially lets you combine two dual-core Athlon 64 X2 or Athlon 64 FX chips to create a quad-core desktop PC now. This move by AMD is a direct counter to Intel's new Core 2 Duo chips, which, according to the early buzz, are supposed to outpace AMD's current-gen CPUs. AMD made the point that Socket 4x4 also provides a more flexible upgrade path for a single motherboard system by letting you start with one chip and add another later on. AMD didn't talk pricing, but you can bet neither the Socket 4x4 motherboards, nor systems that use it to include two dual-core CPUs will be cheap.