Advanced Micro Devices is the latest to up the processing core ante with a 12-core chip. Intel is expected to follow this with a chip that contains eight cores.
Both of these chips move beyond the traditional two- and four-core processors that have been around for years. Chips integrating six or more cores are targeted at pricey, high-end server computers that need to process huge workloads in parallel. Ideally, the more cores, the faster the processing, though software has to be properly "parallelized" to take advantage of multiple cores.
Servers using these chips typically cluster together scores, if not hundreds, of processors.
The AMD Opteron 6100 series processors will come in eight- and 12-core flavors. Large server vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Cray are all expected to announce systems with the chips.
A 12-core 2.3GHz AMD 6100 series chip will be priced at $1,386, while a 2.4GHz eight-core chip will cost $744.
Earlier this month, Intel rolled out a six-core chip. At the high end of this series is a Xeon 5680 model priced at $1,663. Intel will follow this soon with an eight-core processor.
While AMD is offering more total cores, individual Intel cores tend to outperform AMD's.