PC World has escaped punishment from the UK's advertising watchdog after one of its adverts appeared to suggest that Intel's dual-core processors performed twice as quickly as single-core processors.
A national press advert for the retailer featured laptops and PCs using Intel's dual-core Core 2 Duo processors. Part of the ad read: "Core 2 Duo twice as fast… Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology with Core 2 Duo processor."
The person who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), whose name was not revealed, suggested that the claim "twice as fast" misleadingly implied that Core 2 Duo would always be twice as fast as a single-core processor. The critic said that they understood that, because of shared hardware components, the Core 2 Duo would be no more than 1.7 times faster than a single-core processor.
In response to the complaint, PC World said the laptop advertised used Intel Core 2 Duo and Centrino technology. The retailer pointed out that the text "twice as fast" was linked to a footnote that explained that the claim was based on benchmarking against the performance of previous generation Intel Centrino chipset technology, and readers could learn more by visiting the Intel website.
The footnote in the advert read: "Based on multitasking benchmarking against previous-generation Centrino. See www.intel.com for details."
PC World said it therefore disagreed with the assertion that the advert implied Core 2 Duo technology would always be twice as fast as a single-core processor, because it was not being compared with a single-core processor.
The retailer said the claim "twice as fast" originated from Intel itself and it sent the ASA a sample of benchmarking data. It argued that it was reasonable to compare the performance of the current technology against that of the product's well-known and immediate predecessor. PC World said it was not currently using the claim but would like to do so in the future.
In its ruling, the ASA rejected the complaint and said no further action was needed. It noted that the claim "twice as fast" was linked to the footnote and that the footnote made it clear that it referred to the performance of Core 2 Duo technology against previous-generation Centrino technology. "We acknowledged that the ad made clear the basis for the 'twice as fast' claim and where readers could find out more information about that. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead," the ASA said.
It is not the first time PC World has found itself on the end of ASA complaints, covering anything from laptop sale prices to wireless-access technology claims, but this is the first time dual-core processors have been involved.
Processor suppliers, including Intel and AMD, have not promoted dual-core solutions as delivering twice the performance.
The 1.7:1 performance ratio cited by the ASA critic is similar to findings from various industry benchmarking tests, but the actual performance depends on the applications being run.
Analyst Gartner recently published a report on the potential for dual-core processors in businesses, and said it wasn't just the speed benefits that firms should consider. Although the extra cost was a major issue, said Gartner, firms could benefit from the extra features delivered by the chipset the dual-core processors were part of. Such features included the ability to run multiple applications simultaneously, and additional power-management features to improve battery life.