A few PC makers will start selling PCs containing dual-core chips from Intel on Monday, three days ahead of the debut of the dual cores.
Dell, Alienware and a few others are preparing to take orders on Monday for PCs containing these chips, an Intel spokesman said. The companies will also be able to ship these PCs to customers. Although volumes of the Extreme Edition Pentium 4, code-named Smithfield, will initially be low, Intel will ship millions of dual-core chips by the end of the year, the spokesman said.
By the end of 2006, Intel expects that 70 percent of its server chips and 85 percent of its desktop and notebook chips will be dual core, the company has said.
Intel's pre-emptive strike will likely give it the right to claim being the first to ship dual-core x86 chips. Advanced Micro Devices is slated to release dual-core Opteron chips for servers and workstations on April 21. Hewlett-Packard, however, is currently taking preorders on dual-core Opteron servers.
Intel's dual-core chips will run at 3.2GHz, slower than existing Pentium 4s, and will have an 800MHz system bus. Each core will also have 1MB of cache, less than the 2MB of cache found on a single-core chip's computing core. Still, the overall performance will be better than existing chips, Intel says, and will allow PC users to fluidly run two applications at once.
The chip will also contain HyperThreading, which allows the processing cores to take on more simultaneous tasks. A scaled-down version of Smithfield without HyperThreading will arrive later in the quarter.
AMD, though, still has a few days to spoil the party. In 2000, Intel secretly moved up the release date of its first 1GHz chip from around June to March 8. After the news broke, AMD moved the date of its first 1GHz chip up a few months to March 6.
Intel's dual-core release will come the day before the 40th anniversary of Moore's Law, the famed observation that the number of transistors on a chip can double every two years.