Faced with weak demand for PCs and technical limits on the speed of its products, Intel is betting on a future in which every chip it makes contains what amounts to two computers. The dual-core technology could bring big performance gains to business computing. But there's a potential roadblock to adoption of the chips--will customers have to pay twice for the software that runs on them?
Intel, the world's largest maker of computer chips, said at its Developer Forum in San Francisco last week that it will begin delivering the dual-core chips next year. The company has shifted its research and development spending toward products that contain two processors on each chip, which can deliver the sharp performance increases the IT industry depends on for sales and profits. Clock-speed increases can't do that anymore, as power-efficiency problems sap chips' performance and generate too much heat. By 2006, Intel expects 40% of its chips for desktop PCs, 85% of those for servers, and 70% for notebooks will use dual-core technology. Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. plans dual-core chips by next year as well.