Intel set to introduce dual-core Celeron processors

In the years since AMD and Intel debuted dual-core processors, both companies have driven the price of dual-core technology steadily downward. While it was initially considered a feature that commanded a price premium, CPU prices have fallen dramatically since. Currently, the cheapest AMD dual-core CPU is the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (2GHz) at NewEgg for $59.99, while Intel's 1.6GHz dual-core Allendale is $74.99. 老域名购买

Now, Intel is preparing to push dual-core capability into the value (aka, low-end) segments. According to X-bit labs, Intel will unveil dual-core Celerons during the first quarter of 2008. The first chip, the Celeron E1200, will be a 1.6GHz processor on an 800MHz system bus with 512K of unified L2 cache. Presumably, these chips will fit into the $34-$59 gap where current Celerons reside as a drop-in replacement.

Although it may not seem all that significant, the availability of dual-core products across an entire market spectrum is actually quite important. Programmers always tend to optimize for the most common denominator within the applicable market when designing software. If nearly all processors sold are dual-core going forward, that hastens the day when a majority of consumers in all segments will have access to multi-threaded CPus. This, in turn, encourages program designers to incorporate multi-threading capabilities so that programs can actually take advantage of both CPU cores.

Whether or not this announcement will have much of an impact on AMD is less clear. As things stand, a 2GHz Athlon 64 X2 is $15 less than a 1.6GHz Allendale and offers a 25 percent clockspeed advantage. This implies that AMD is already well positioned at the "high" end of the value market, relative to the price/performance of any dual-core Celeron Intel might offer around the $60 price point. From $35-$59, AMD's offerings are all single-core and are mostly based on 90nm technology. It's possible that low-cost dual-core Celerons might put pressure on AMD to either transition the Sempron line to dual-core or to further cut prices on older Athlon 64 X2 models, but I suspect AMD's focus right now is on improving their competitive position relative to Intel in the mid-range, high-end, and server markets, rather than matching them in the razor-thin margins of the value segment.