AMD announces dual-core Turion 64 X2 processor

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD today unleashed the dual-core versions of its Turion 64 notebook processor. Rival Intel has the market lead as it has been offering its dual-core Core Duo processor in volume for a little over a quarter - but AMD is first to offer the first 64-bit dual-core processor. According to the company, the Turion 64 X2 is available now with speeds up to 2.0 GHz.

With the arrival of the dual-core Turion, AMD already has begun phasing out its single-core Turion 64, which will have completely disappeared from the market by the end of this year, AMD officials told TG Daily. The new processor will initiate a quick transition not only from single- to dual-core but also to a new mobile processor socket - from the old version 754 to the new S1.

The Turion 64 X2 debuts in four different versions - as TL-50 (1.6 GHz, 512 kB L2 cache)), TL-52 (1.6 GHz, 1 MB), TL-56 (1.8 GHz, 1 MB) and TL-60 (2.0 GHz, 1 MB). The thermal design power (TDP) of the new Turions is on par with Intel: The X2's are listed with a TDP of 31 watt (TL-50, TL-52) and 35 watts (TL-56, TL-60) which compares to 31 watts of Core Duo and 32 - 35 watts of the single-core Turion 64. However, AMD claims that the Turion 64 X2 can achieve a lower consumption level, since the chip is able to reach up to 69% more efficient "sleep states."

While AMD has now caught up with Intel in supporting DDR2 memory (up to 667 MHz), the company uses a substantially different dual-core approach than Intel. The Turion 64 X2 uses a Hypertransport interface with a maximum bandwidth of 10.7 GB/s to connect to the memory and another 6.4 GB/s to the I/O chipset; Intel still relies on a 5.3 GB/s FSB667 for both memory and I/O.

As of now, it is unclear, however, if this architecture in fact translates into any performance advantages for AMD. Company officials declined to comment even on AMD-internal benchmark results, but mentioned that the Turion 64 X2's performance would be close to Intel's Core Duo at comparable clock speeds.

AMD will be able to market its new processor at least for a quarter as the first and only 64-bit dual-core notebook processor, as Intel's Core Duo supports just 32-bit. Intel will introduce 64-bit with the Napa64 platform, based on the Merom processor (Core 2 Duo T7000 series), towards the end of the third quarter of this year. AMD will heavily advertise this temporary advantage, especially to users who intend to upgrade their operating system to a 64-bit capable Windows Vista early next year.

But 64-bit will not remain the only marketing message we will hear from AMD: Instead, AMD spokespeople told TG Daily that the company intends to be considered the better money value: "We intend to offer more bang for the buck than Intel," a spokesperson told us. We do not expect AMD to compare the Turion 64 X2 to the Core Duo in terms of pure performance.

According to AMD, all four Turion 64 X2 models are available today and are priced from $184-$354 in 1000-unit quantities.