OVER THE PAST week, there has been one word on everyone's lips: dual-core. Although, admittedly, that's two if you take out the hyphen. With the launch of the AMD X2, it seems the catfight for your desktop is being rejoined, with renewed vigour.
It seems interesting that we've reached a point at which technology faces the choice of either having its progress slowed down or making a sharp U-turn in a different direction. I don't seriously believe that either Intel or AMD would be going with dual-core right now if they could make their processors scale past 4-5GHz in the current climate.
I feel a little mystified as to what has happened along the line, especially at Intel. Charlie has written many times in these pages how the current Intel dual-core chip is not much more than a stopgap until better-designed cores emerge. Did no-one at Intel forsee, at an early stage, that the Pentium 4 wasn't going to clock up past 4GHz? Were their calculations about what could be done with desktop chips just wrong? If journalists had worked out, at an early stage, that the P4 was beginning to blow goats in scaling and performance terms, why didn't the Intel engineers see it? Or were they just all afraid of the Big Bad Barret?
The trend to go dual doesn't just apply to CPU cores. RAID has spent the last two years operating with renewed vigour, with the vast majority of enthusiast-grade motherboards sporting onboard controllers. With the continuing fall in prices of hard drives, RAID now makes total sense, even when hard drive capacities are continuing to soar.
And, of course, there's SLI. For Nvidia, I believe that SLI was less about miscalculating how fast their graphics parts can run and having to come up with something else - ATI have proved that it's perfectly possible to keep scaling architectures to ridiculous speeds and keep selling them.
And, in this apparent era of duelling and dualing, it seems appropriate that in most of these markets, the battles are being fought out between just two companies, be it Nvidia and ATI, AMD and Intel, or whoever. Blows are landed, victories are claimed, but there's often little to tell between the two.
It all makes you wonder just what the next phase of dualism will be.
Why not open two copies of the INQUIRER in your browser, and read one from the bottom and one from the top? Two mice, to perform multiple operations simultaneously?
Regardless of your choices, I've taken the dual-everything philosophy to heart. Rather than just finding a more attractive girlfriend whilst out partying this weekend, I'm just going to add in the sister of my existing one so they can work in parallel, giving me a better user experience. Although, I fear that without Intel's technology, there may be a disproportionate amount of heat generated. µ
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