AMD guys at CES 2007 thinks they will reach sixteen core software programming within five years:
The next move for 2007 is to get to software quad core optimised. After that, it will go exponential and move to sixteen cores. Software should be threaded to exploit sixteen cores in the next five years, the AMD spinner spun.
Intel didn’t talk about any future plans apart from software stuff where the games need to get better and use hardware more efficiently.
But heavy multi-threading is the future for both AMD/ATI, and Intel. In fact, even Nvidia agrees, for once. They'll argue about the number of cores and the time-frame, but they're barking up the same tree.