AMD's Turion gets a second core

AMD now has dual-core chips across all of its products with the launch of the Turion 64 X2.

Advanced Micro Devices has gone dual-core across the board with the expected release of the Turion 64 X2 processors on Wednesday.

The Turion processor was AMD's first major effort to build a processor designed specifically for notebooks, and it now has two cores, said Matt Mazzantini, an AMD mobile marketing manager. Notebook makers such as Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Acer and others plan to release notebooks with the chip over the next several weeks, he said.

AMD has been giving Intel fits in the desktop and server markets over the past year and has made significant progress in notebooks, but Intel has held a performance and branding edge in the mobile market. AMD expects the dual-core Turion to offer roughly the same performance as Intel's Core Duo chip at similar frequencies, Mazzantini said.

But, there are a few differences. Like AMD's other dual-core chips, the dual-core Turions have an integrated memory controller and dedicated cache memory for each core. They support DDR2 memory in line with AMD's new architecture introduced on Tuesday.

In the notebook market, power consumption is arguably more important than raw performance. AMD lists a slightly higher range for the maximum power consumption of its chips, but has a slight advantage over Intel in some of the deeper sleep states that a processor enters in between workloads.

In August, Intel plans to launch a notebook version of the Core 2 Duo processor, formerly known as Merom. That chip will outperform and consume less power than the Core Duo, but it's unclear how it will stack up against the first Turion 64 X2 processors or later versions.

The Turion 64 X2 is capable of running 64-bit operating systems and software such as the forthcoming Windows Vista. The Core Duo will not be able to run the 64-bit versions of Vista, but it can run the 32-bit versions of that operating system, and the Core 2 Duo chips will have 64-bit capabilities. Few people are running 64-bit operating systems or software on their PCs right now, but that is expected to change with the introduction of Vista.

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