Is The Market Ready?
The dust still hasn't settled from Intel's Core 2 Duo market shakeup, a technology that allowed Intel to definitively take back the performance crown it has spent so many years battling to grasp. The Core 2 Extreme QX6700 adds heat to the fire by doubling its performance potential.
Doubling the number of simultaneously-executable threads by doubling the number of cores, however, is just as likely to double power consumption and heat output. This comes at a time when most users cannot yet even take full advantage of current dual-core capabilities; a time when most PC software is written for two cores at most; a time when Intel's reputation is still recovering from the heat nightmare that was the Pentium D; and a time when mass marketing is shifting towards tiny boxes. In other words, Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is probably the last thing the mass market needs right now. Knowing this, Intel is releasing only enthusiast-level versions.
But Intel's timing is neither poor nor coincidental: AMD's first quad-core release is expected in approximately two weeks. While most technology analysts don't expect anything revolutionary in terms of performance gained, it remains to be seen whether AMD's new product is evolutionary enough to tighten the race. HyperTransport's bidirectional nature might play a key factor in making AMD's solution more competitive, while other planned updates may further enhance scaling and IPC.
Intel certainly beat AMD to the quad-core starting line, but this race is far from over. The market needs tight competition to assure reasonable performance at all price levels, so as we congratulate Intel on a job well done, let's also hope that AMD is able to catch up quickly.
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