AMD has started shipping a version of its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processor that is considerably cheaper than the company's previous dual-core chips.

The company hopes to bring dual-core computing to the mainstream consumer, it said, although the new processor is still aimed primarily at PC enthusiasts, and those who run multiple processor-intensive applications simultaneously.

The Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor 3800+ started shipping on Monday and will be in shops shortly, according to Mari Hayashi, an AMD spokeswoman in Tokyo.

Dual-core chips are the latest innovation from AMD and its main rival, Intel. They contain two processor cores on a single piece of silicon, and each processor can handle tasks such as editing video and burning disks independently, improving overall performance, according to the chip makers.

AMD announced its first four dual-core Athlon 64s in May, and these were considerably more expensive than the 3800+ series. A higher-end 4800+ model is priced at $1,001 for volume purchases, and the least expensive 4200+ processor costs $537, the company said at the time.

The 3800+ series is cheaper because the chips run at a lower frequency, Hayashi said. Both cores in the 3800+ series chips run at 2 GHz, compared to 2.2 GHz for the 4200+ series, she said.