Beyond Dual Core: 2007 Desktop CPU Road Map

by George Jones @ ComputerWorld

January 01, 2007 (Computerworld) -- What a difference a year makes. One year ago, we were dazed, dazzled and beguiled by the arrival of dual-core processors. Offerings from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. had analysts, journalists, IT professionals and enthusiasts all gushing with praise for a bright new multitasking future.

Amazingly, both Intel and AMD were able to deliver on the potential of dual-core processing. Throughout 2006, desktop PCs played host to a series of processors that, while slower at the clock-speed level, were faster in real-life usage, allowing for unprecedented amounts of multitasking. (For more about both companies' current lineups of desktop CPUs, see our CPU Buyer's Guide.)

As the calendar flips to 2007, we are firmly entrenched in the world of multicore processors. And based upon the confidential road maps of both Intel and AMD, it is clear that dual-core CPUs are only the launching point for the future of the microprocessor. In 2007, quad cores and even eight-core CPUs will be available. By 2009, there's a good chance that sixteen-core processors will be on the market.

As we enter 2007, five key questions regarding the pending year's CPU battle are on our minds:

  1. Will AMD be able to continue its dominance in the U.S. desktop market?
  2. How will Intel capitalize upon the success of Core 2?
  3. Will AMD be able to match the success of Intel's Core 2 processors?
  4. When will the market see true quad-core and even eight-core processors?
  5. What surprises do the chip makers have up their sleeves?

With all this in mind, we're taking an extended look at the processors and processor trends you can expect to see in 2007. Not surprisingly, neither AMD nor Intel was willing to divulge many specifics regarding their CPU releases for the coming year. So we scoured the Net, pored over statements from both companies and dug into reports from the host of analysts and experts who cover them.

It's worth noting that much of the information in this road map is preliminary and code-name-level information. As such, the specifics of the processors could change in coming months.

All secrets are revealed within.