In a rare convergence of technology it seems that for the first time since the 1980's the two x86 microprocessor manufacturers, Intel and AMD, are coming out with surprisingly similar technology and architecture for their next generation 45nm quad core chips. This will allow true one-to-one competition between the two chip makers. We will all benefit as computers will show a real leap in computer performance compared to past architectures. We're talking server speeds moving to your desktop, and Vista loading in less than 45 seconds.
The two chip builders took different architectural routes to get to today's convergence in chip architecture. When Intel eliminated its Front Side Bus, put the memory controller in the chip, and independently powered each core they took on the same architecture that AMD has been using for years. At the same time, AMD went to 45nm technology which Intel has pioneered. Thus the convergence.
Intel's offering internally called "Nehalem," and commercially dubbed "Corei7," will replace the popular "Core2" architecture. Memory performance will triple as three separate DDR3 memory DIMMs with be run simultaneously. Intel requires a new socket, supporting hardware, and DDR3 memory.
AMD offering internally called "Shanghai," and commercially dubbed "Opteron," will use the same socket on the motherboard as their older "Barcelona" architecture, and AMD is waiting until 2010 to move to DDR3 memory. So they will be compatible with existing hardware right from the start.
Intel is first out the door, but will have to wait for the hardware to catch up. Memory availability appears to be there. AMD will have to prove it can deliver consistently, which it has had trouble with in the past. Thus the 2009 battleground.
The victor will be the chip with the best performance and the lowest power consumption. We are all eagerly awaiting the competition.