I’m sure you’ve noticed that both AMD and Intel are now shipping dual core processors, but unlike with previous processor releases these are turning out to be a hard sell. Surprising? Not really, now that model numbers and even the almighty MHz no longer matter many people frown upon these new processors and wonder why they need two, instead of one. Well, many (r)etailers seem to have found a way to explain things better to Joe Average that shops for a new PC at BestBuy, they simply state that both Intel and AMD couldn’t make faster processors, so now they’re using two instead, to up the performance.
Whilst the bit about Intel and AMD not being able to make faster processors certainly has a truth to it, although they will emphatically deny it, the latter part of that statement is further from the truth, as explained earlier. But there’s more about these new processors that you’re average Best Buy sales clerk will not be able to report on. For example the fastest Intel dual core processor, the 840D uses two 3.2GHz Prescott core processors with HyperThreading, causing for the processor to have two physical cores, and four logical ones, two of which are the result of the HyperThreading technology.
It sure sounds impressive but doesn’t mention that the fastest Intel processor runs at 3.8GHz, a good 400MHz faster, also has HyperThreading, and performs quite a bit faster for the majority of tasks than its uber expensive dual core relative. It also doesn’t mention that you’ll need a brand new motherboard to run this processor as it won’t drop into your existing Socket-775 motherboard. AMD on the other hand seems to have the most appealing solution, their processor ranks right up there with their other offerings in terms of clockspeed and drops into any Socket-939 motherboard, only requiring a BIOS update in most cases.
But it doesn’t stop there, the Athlon-64 architecture; or rather the interface between the processors, called HyperTransport, was engineered from the start to take benefit from multiple processors cores, whether on a single die, or on the same motherboard. This makes AMD solution a far more elegant, but more importantly a far better performing one, with their top of the line dual processors running at the same clockspeed as their fastest Athlon-64 processor. It however fails to match the performance of their much heralded FX series processors. So for now dual core is a nice extra but will not save the day in terms of absolute performance, for that we’ll need another bump in, you guessed it, processor clockspeed.