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AMD has high hopes for its upcoming native quad-core design

When it comes to quad-core processors for the desktop and server arenas, Intel has pretty much had the market to itself since November 2006 (if you don't count AMD's Quad FX platform). Intel's quad-core processors were officially announced on November 14 in the form of the desktop-oriented Core 2 Extreme QX6700 and the server-oriented Clovertown Xeon 5300 series.

Intel has been using its quad-core Clovertown processors to grab marketshare back from AMD in the server markets and has been putting significant pricing pressure on AMD. "Early indications are that Clovertown is contributing a meaningful amount of business to Intel in a surprisingly short period of time. It's not marketing fluff," said Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron.

Technology Business Research's John Spooner added that Clovertown "has allowed Intel to put some pricing pressure on AMD. Intel can tout a lower price per core, given that it's pricing much of the quad-core Xeon 5300 line the same as its dual-core Xeon 5100 chips."

AMD isn't taking this news lightly and is prepared to fight back with its native quad-core Barcelona processors in mid 2007. Intel's quad-core chips put two dual-core chips onto a single package while AMD's approach has one quad-core chip on a single package.

"We expect across a wide variety of workloads for Barcelona to outperform Clovertown by 40 percent," said AMD's corporate vice president for server and workstation products, Randy Allen.

AMD's Barcelona quad-core processors will be built on a 65nm manufacturing process and the company also claims that they will have the same thermal and electrical envelope as existing dual-core Opterons. The processors will also feature 2MB of shared L3 cache as well as AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology for x86 virtualization.

Barcelona processors will also fit nicely into existing Socket F systems and will only require a BIOS update for system compatibility.




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