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Hewlett-Packard Co. aims to offer a duo of dual-core processors in its business desktop line this year.

Starting this fall, the Palo Alto, Calif., computer giant plans to offer AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 processor, officially introduced Tuesday, as an option for its HP Compaq Business Desktop dx5150, said Brian Schmitz, worldwide product marketing manager for HP’s business desktops, in a recent interview with

Although it already offers Intel Corp.’s dual-core Pentium D, HP says it will add the Athlon 64 X2 in an effort to offer customers a wider range of options.

The company already offers AMD’s dual-core Opteron chip in several of its servers.

It also includes single-core AMD Athlon 64 and Sempron chips in several HP Pavilion and Compaq Presario desktops and notebooks for consumers.

It’s likely to offer the X2 chip in those systems in the future as well.

HP, which introduced the Business Desktop dx5150 in late April, has been pitching the machine to small and medium-size businesses.

A company spokesperson declined to elaborate on the exact configuration of or pricing of Athlon 64 X2 systems.

However, the emergence of the Athlon 64 X2 in PCs starting this month helped mark the dawning of the dual-core PC processor era for HP and other manufacturers.

HP and a host of other computer makers announced last week that they would offer desktops based on Intel’s Intel Extreme 945X chip set and dual-core Pentium D.

Click here to read more about Intel’s dual-core Pentium D processor.

The 945X chip set offers a number of new features, ranging from support for speedier memory and an option for higher-performance built-in graphics to the ability to support up to four hard drives.

The Pentium D, which is available at speeds ranging from 2.8GHz to 3.2GHz, is Intel’s first dual-core processor for so-called mainstream desktops.

HP will offer that that bundle of chips in its Business Desktop dc7600, for example.

A version of the machine with a 2.8GHz Pentium D 820, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a CD-ROM starts at about $1,000, HP’s Web site shows.

Generally, the arrival of dual-core chips can offer most users at least some benefits, Schmitz said.

Although a dearth of software will limit the immediate performance increase dual-core chips offer for everyday business tasks, such as writing e-mails, PCs running the chips will multitask more smoothly, running one program in the background, while another is actively working.

Certain applications, especially those for workstations, will see more immediate gains for specific tasks, Schmitz said. Dual-core chips boost video encoding for one, tests have show.

But given the premium pricing of the dual-core chips, “Our guidance to customers in single core is still [offering] the best price-performance for this year for a standard business desktop user,” he said.

Aside from HP, Acer Inc., Alienware Corp. and Lenovo Group Ltd., are all expected to adopt the Athlon 64 X2 in desktops in various geographies.

It will also come in so-called desktop-replacement notebooks, AMD said.

AMD rolled out four Athlon 64 X2 models. They included the X2 4200+, which lists for $537; the $581 model 4400+; and the 4600+ at $803. The top-of-the-line 4800+ lists for $1,001, AMD said.

Intel’s Pentium D models range in price from $241 for the 2.8GHz 820 model to $530 for the 3.2GHz 840.

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