The appearance, in some online store catalogues, of the dual-core Athlon X2 3800+ processor marks a welcome new entry to the processor battles. Although not yet officially announced, the X2 3800+ is expected to have a clockspeed of 2.0Ghz and to have 2x512Kb level 2 cache. Expect it to retail for around $US350, which is about 60% of the cost of the previous low end Athlon64 X2.

With performance which exceeeds that of comparable Pentium dual-core processors, the Athlon64 X2 series has also been priced more highly. Expect to see some serious competition ahead for the entry level Pentium D 820 and 830 processors.

Dual-core processors, of course, are not the best option for all purposes. Those people who run single threaded applications such as 3D games will get no benefit, as dual-core processors generally offer lower performance in single core applications. Top of the range X2 4800+ for example only matches the single thread performance of the Athlon64 4000+. Those people running applications programs which can take advantage of multithreading, however, have much to smile about.

AMD has now confirmed the availability of this entry level dual-core processor

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Would the dual core processor cause any issues with licensing of certain programs that are licensed on a per-processor basis? In other words, would such programs see this as two processors? Also, what would be the advantage to existing programs (those that might not be dualcore-aware)?

Microsoft has led the way by clearly stating that its operating systems will definitely be licensed on a 'per processor' basis rather than on a 'per core' basis. It is going to be up to software vendors to follow that lead. I'd rather suspect that software developers who do not not make their programs reflect the changing state of the PC hardware world will fall by the wayside in the face of pressure from their customers.

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