Intel ships dual core Pentiums

As predicted, Intel has begun to ship its first desktop Pentium chips featuring dual cores. The company’s announcement scoops a similar announcement that is expected to be made by its arch rival AMD next week.

Intel ships dual core Pentiums

As we revealed yesterday the announcement was made in Taiwan to a conference of hardware suppliers. Abhi Talwalkar, the general manager of Intel’s digital enterprise group, said ‘We just passed an important milestone. Intel is shipping the Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840 running at 3.2 GHz and Intel 955X Express Chipsets, Intel’s first dual-core processor-based platform, to our customers.’

The Extreme Edition dual-core Pentium 4, formerly known as Smithfield is slower than the current range of single core Pentium 4. It will also have a 1Mb of cache for each of the cores, less than the 2Mb of cache dedicated to the core on a single-core chip.

The announcement, while not unexpected, will irk AMD which is planning to make its own announcement on 21 April. However, the AMD dual core parts are expected to be Opteron based processors aimed at the server market rather than the Pentium that is seen as Intel’s desktop offering.

AMD can at least take some comfort in the fact that the operating systems and applications for dual core processors are already well established in the server market via the support for multiprocessor systems. The same can’t be said for the desktop market. while the dual core workstation market might be served by flavours of Linux or Unix, the games and desktop applications demanded by the enthusiast market are likely to be some way off.

However, while Intel may have scored a PR coup by being the first x86 chip developer to ‘ship’ a dual core processor, when they will appear in machines that customers can actually buy may be a different matter. While any new design is likely to be in short supply for some time after launch as the manufacturer irons out glitches and ramps up production, the likelihood is that the dual core Pentiums will be scarce for several months yet.

Nevertheless, Dell Computer, which remains and Intel only supplier of PCs has said that it expects to begin to ship PCs with the new dual core Pentium EE for the workstation and enthusiast market shortly.

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