Where Do Single Cores Go?

Both AMD and Intel plan to make dual cores mainstream once their 65nm fabs get on stream.

This does not mean they’re going to stop selling single-cores, though.

For those who are skeptical that they really need to see double next year, the question becomes, “If they’re going to sell single cores, what are they going to sell them for?”

Trying to sell single- and dual-cores at the same time means each CPU company is not only going to be competing against each other, but themselves.

If they price dual-cores too high, they won’t sell them in mainstream quantities. If they sell duallies at mainstream prices, what do they charge for singles? Less, but how much less? Charge too little, and people will buy bargains rather than the duallies.

AMD has pretty much followed a “if you give them two, charge them double” policy. Intel initially charged a relatively modest premium for its Pentium ® Ds, but they didn’t cut dually prices when they cut the price of singles a few weeks ago, so the premium is now relatively larger.

Intel may have given a hint as to what they may eventually do with singles with this comment:

“We expect single-core processors to exist for quite some time in our value-processor (our emphasis) line,” Steve Smith, vice president of Intel’s digital enterprise group, said this week at the Intel Developer Forum here.

This raises a number of questions. Will Celeron eventually become Intelese for “single-processor?” If so, will they be Celerons simply because they don’t have a mate, or will they continue to be stripped down single-core?

No matter what Intel does, how will AMD respond, either product- or price-wise?

Don’t know the answers, doubt there are any answers at the moment, but life is likely to get a bit more complicated in about a year, and there may be some bargains for those who don’t quite need a dually.


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