AMD has today launched their dual-core chip, called the Athlon 64 X2. The chip is designed for use in desktop and laptop computers. The X2, which was unveiled at the Computex trade show in Taiwan, is already destined for systems from Hewlett-Packard and Alienware. The chip is currently priced higher than Intel's desktop dual-core offering, at between $1,001 for the best-performing units and $537 for the low-end version.

"[Everyone] will benefit dramatically and qualitatively with multicore [chips]," Dirk Meyer, president and chief operating officer of AMD's microprocessor solutions sector, said at the company's launch event.

The chip will initially be available in four versions, which won't come cheap. The prices range from $537 for the 4200+ version to $1,001 for the 4800+ version – and those prices are for bulk purchases of 1,000 chips or more. "We've decided to go first at the high end of the market," said Henri Richard, AMD executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, at a news conference in Taipei.

Asked if AMD's chips might be too expensive for systems integrators, especially compared with the slightly lower prices of dual-core Intel chips, Richard said Intel's chips require a new chip set and additional cooling. As a result, the overall price difference between the companies won't be as great as the difference in chip pricing, he said.

The Athlon 64 X2 is compatible with motherboards for AMD's single-core Athlon 64 chip, but you will require a BIOS upgrade.