AMD has demonstrated its first dual-core microprocessors. Set to hit the market next year, the processors offer improved performance over single-core chips, especially in multi-threaded applications.

AMD's demo included an HP Proliant DL585 server running four dual-core Opteron processors. An updated BIOS - the interface between a computer's hardware and operating system - was all that was required to get the four-way server up and running, it said.

The chips - which contain two processor cores and 1MB of Level 2 cache for each core - use the same 940-pin socket used by AMD's single-core Opteron processors manufactured with a 90-nanometer process. This compatibility will allow HP, Sun and IBM to add dual-core Opterons to existing systems designed for Opteron, AMD said.

In addition, users will be able to upgrade existing systems that are compatible with the 90-nanometer single-core processors to dual-core chips, it said.

The dual-core Opteron chips, which were produced using a 90-nanometer process, are expected to be available commerically by the middle of next year. Pricing has yet to be disclosed. Dual-core processors designed for desktop PCs will be made available during the second half of 2005.

AMD rival Intel also plans to make available a full range of dual-core processors in 2005.