Ready for the era of dual-core? You now have a choice of dual-core processors and based on PC World tests, the winner is clearly AMD's new Athlon 64 X2, which handily outdistanced a dual-core Intel system tested last month.
Our tests indicate that with both AMD's and Intel's dual-core chips you'll obtain the biggest performance benefit when you work with multiple applications at once or when you use multithreaded software, designed to recognise more than one processor.
Dual-core chips have two processing cores, in effect giving you two CPUs in a single piece of silicon. You also get two L2 memory caches, one for each core.
The 64-bit Athlon 64 X2 chips ship in June, joining currently available dual-core Opteron server and workstation CPUs. Systems should soon be available from vendors such as Acer, Alienware, HP and Lenovo.
Also, you should be able to upgrade your existing Athlon 64 PC to the new chips with just a BIOS change, whereas to convert an Intel unit to dual-core you'll need to purchase a new motherboard.
The AMD machine we tested was the second-fastest we've ever seen, with a 116 mark on WorldBench 5, easily surpassing the 95 posted by the 3.2GHz dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 reference system that we looked at earlier.