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AMD puts quad core chips with only three operational cores to some use.  (Source: Advanced Micro Devices)
AMD's triple-core CPUs bridge the quad-core gap at dual-core prices

The industry and its consumers knew they were coming and who they were coming from but the "when" part was the biggest question until today. AMD has officially launched the Phenom X3 8000 series desktop processors today with two models in the series.

The Phenom X3 processors are the first desktop processors to feature a 3-core design and are aimed at bridging the price gap between dual-core and quad-core products. The Phenom X3 is basically a quad-core package with one core turned off.

AMD's Phenom X3 series will launch with two models, the 8400 and 8600 which will feature clock speeds of 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz respectively. Each model is said to consume 95W, feature 512KB of L2 cache per core and 2.0MB of L3 cache, the same amount as the Phenom X4 processors. The Phenom X3 series will also feature a maximum HyperTransport speed of 3.6GHz.

The initial launch of these Toliman triple-core processors will be aimed at OEMs and system builders so there is no word on single unit pricing.  However, previous roadmaps indicate Phenom X3 pricing will reach the sub-$100 price point.  HP and Dell began selling triple-core systems last month, though AMD's announcement indicates channel availability is on the way.

The tri-core processors are the last of AMD's "B2" stepping, and are still technically affected by the TLB bug.  However, since Phenom X3 is targeted for low-end systems rather than virtualized server environments, end users do not need to worry about instability.

"B3" revisions of the Phenom X3 processors will likely come later this year, as the rest of the AMD Phenom roadmap transitions to B3 next month.

The next batch of Phenom X3's will include the 8450, 8650, and 8750 at 2.1GHz, 2.3GHz, and the new high point of 2.4GHz respectively running at 95W, and should be expected sometime in Q2 2008.

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The price
By dickeywang on 3/28/2008 9:25:17 AM , Rating: 2
"Phenom X3 pricing will reach the sub-$100 price point", if AMD can make some $$$ with such a price, then I would say AMD is definitely back into the game!!

RE: The price
By mmntech on 3/28/2008 9:50:32 AM , Rating: 4
That's really the deciding factor for me, as is was when I went with AMD for my last rig, which I built when the Core 2s were just coming out. They still perform respectively for a budget gaming option, especially since the E8200 hasn't broken the sub-$200 barrier here in Canada. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any decent mid-range mobos that support AM2+ and Crossfire, so my next rig will probably be Wolfdale.

AMD really did miss the boat though for this processor generation. However, without them, we'd probably still be running slow Pentium 4s hot enough to cook eggs on. It's good to see some real competition in the CPU market. I hope AMD can bounce back before Intel gets complacent again.

RE: The price
By bjacobson on 3/29/2008 11:24:58 AM , Rating: 2
Further, there's just something about having 3 cores that makes it cooler. One core more isn't going to make a difference, but it sure sounds way cooler. I'm not sure why though.

It's a Tri-athlon.

RE: The price
By 4wardtristan on 3/30/2008 2:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
It's a Tri-athlon.

hahaha nice to see some bad-dad jokes coming out!

RE: The price
By tigen on 3/31/2008 8:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's because three is a magic number. Yes it is.

What's the point?
By defter on 3/28/2008 4:02:27 AM , Rating: 1
Anand's review shows that slowest E8000-series dual core CPU (2.66GHz/E8200) already outperforms 2.2GHz quad -core Phenom in many desktop applications. And now AMD is launching 2.1-2.3GHz tri-core CPUs which will have the same poor 1-2 thread performance coupled with significantly lower multithreaded perfomance?

Unless AMD plans to sell then at $100-$120, I don't see the point of choosing them instead of 45nm dual core Wolfdale.

RE: What's the point?
By Pjotr on 3/28/2008 9:47:29 AM , Rating: 4
Most Intel dual cores outperform Intel quad cores. My guess is that the E8000 2.66 GHz outperforms the Q6600 2.4 GHz quad core in most desktop applications. For those applications, it's more about clock speed per core than number of cores, since few are multi-thread optimized.

By thartist on 3/27/2008 5:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
"AMD's triple-core CPUs bridge the quad-core gap at dual-core prices"

Smart, brief, accurate, descriptive and NOT CHEESY.

that's the way it's done.

RE: Subtitle
By nerdye on 3/27/08, Rating: -1
RE: Subtitle
By jtemplin on 3/27/2008 8:41:04 PM , Rating: 3
Hes just giving a compliment to the author...don't be such a sour puss.

I think the releases date
By eye smite on 3/27/2008 5:32:11 PM , Rating: 3
might be mis-stated in this article. Currently there are 2 oem systems on circuit city's website with phenomX3s and the Gateway system has been on there a couple of weeks now.

Wait a minute...
By shabby on 3/27/2008 6:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
Didnt amd make a point that they would disable the slowest core and let the x3 run at higher mhz compared to the lower clocked quad cores half a year ago? Now these things are coming out at a mere 2.1/2.3ghz?

By crystal clear on 3/29/2008 11:47:11 AM , Rating: 2
AMD should have products that are superior to Intel, NOT the same as Intel's, but even better.

Thats the only way AMD can come out of its financial crisis.

How many Qs will it take to learn the hardway that this is the only way out of the crisis.

Don't call it a comeback! Really. Don't. It's not.
By joemoedee on 3/27/08, Rating: -1
By MagnumMan on 3/27/2008 5:34:23 PM , Rating: 4
Have you seen the price of the higher end intel CPUs that have no competition? How about $1000 for a 3GHz quad core CPU that runs a little bit faster than the 2.4GHz one? Is it 4 times faster? It should be, because it costs 4 times as much. Way out of control. AMD is a very important company, if for nothing more than to make sure intel doesn't have their way with the world.

By Anh Huynh on 3/28/2008 3:26:19 AM , Rating: 2
That's because it's an enthusiasts CPU, which is why its the Core 2 Extreme. Let's not forget Intel had regular models below that too.

And don't make it sound like AMD isn't guilty of charging a premium for enthusiasts either, need we mention the Athlon 64 FX?

By joemoedee on 3/28/2008 10:12:21 AM , Rating: 2
AMD is a very important company, if for nothing more than to make sure intel doesn't have their way with the world.

I made that point already in my post... (As I quote myself)

AMD's competition has made Intel put out some great CPUs, I'm hoping they stick around and start to innovate again.

Intel has $1000 cpus. Agreed. AMD had similarly priced CPUs. (FX-51, FX-53, FX-55, FX-57, FX-60, etc) If you have the performance, you can sell the niche part. AMD doesn't have it now, and thus doesn't even attempt to compete. Current indicators show that they won't be able to compete on the "high" end for awhile, and the issue I brought up is AMD's current "high" end only compares with "low" end Intel parts.

By Choppedliver on 3/27/2008 6:41:03 PM , Rating: 5
Um... Most computers have one core. That's an odd number. Three is an odd number. Neither is symmetrical...

Having an odd number of cores is not going to be a problem. People forget that there is more than one way that multicore can be used

a) by the operating system to handle multiple processes and threads
b) by multiprocessor aware programs
c) by both the OS and the application.

By theapparition on 3/28/2008 7:46:54 AM , Rating: 1
Um... Most computers have one core. That's an odd number. Three is an odd number. Neither is symmetrical...

One core doesn't run in MP mode, so that's a moot point and you know it ;). The OP is correct when he says that some applications require even cores. I received a tech bulliten for some software that I use that will not work with the AMD tri-cores. I'll also admit, this is not mainstream software and there are other odd ball packages that may have problems. For most consumer applications though, you'll be fine.

He was just advising caution with the 3 cores, that's all.

By FITCamaro on 3/28/2008 9:53:53 AM , Rating: 3
Care to list a few?

By herrdoktor330 on 3/27/2008 5:48:52 PM , Rating: 4
I look at the tri-core release this way:

If they can offer these chips at a low price point, you can get alot of value from something like this. If you paired a tri-core phenom up with a cheap 780g motherboard, you get all the great HD decoding/playback advantages and performance at a low price. Those two products together make for a nice media platform. Granted, the Core2 setup is going to smoke a PC like this in media encoding. But if you don't bother doing that, it's not a huge issue. Besides, most applications aren't multithreaded past 2 cores yet. So you're still getting enough umph to do a majority of the processes someone would be using this setup for.

The only thing I don't like about this is that it's still using the B2 stepping.

I've been an AMD customer since the K6-2 line, so maybe it's just a personal bias I feel this way. I'm not trying to be a fanboy, but if I could price a core system (RAM,CPU,Mobo,GPU,sound) together for around the $250-$300 price point, that's a sweet deal.

But the real value will be determined when the tri-core is benchmarked against the quad-core phenom. Until then, I'm just talking out of my posterior.

By AlphaVirus on 3/28/2008 12:32:35 PM , Rating: 2
You made valid points, but I have to mention something else.

If the Tri-Core is priced similar to multiple dual-cores on the market, people will automatically jump for it. Take an average-joe shopping for a mid-range system around $600. He goes to <insert B&M store> and looks at 6 prebuilt systems:

1 Quad core ($1,000)
2 Core2duo ($700)
2 X2 ($500)
1 Tricore ($700)

AMD will most likely win the sell regardless. The run-of-the-mill buyer is not going to know more than what the salesman tells them, and what the price says. If they see a tri-core priced similar to a dual core then they will go for that computer.

Just my thought.

By joemoedee on 3/28/2008 1:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
AMD will most likely win the sell regardless. The run-of-the-mill buyer is not going to know more than what the salesman tells them, and what the price says. If they see a tri-core priced similar to a dual core then they will go for that computer.

The average consumer is slow to go against Intel to begin with, so even similarly priced AMD is not going to push as many systems as Intel. Sure some will fall for the 3 is better than 2 idea, but most will see that Intel Inside sticker and go to it.

By winterspan on 3/27/2008 7:33:10 PM , Rating: 3
"There really is no real compelling reason to buy any of their consumer CPUs at this point."

Except for the most popular reason of all, which is PRICE.
Remember, not everyone buys $2000 systems.. the vast majority of sales are at the low-end of the market. With the AMD pricing figures I read, the tri-cores are going to be VERY competitively priced with Intel's dual cores with similar clock speeds.

I think the X3s will offer a tremendous value for consumers who buy PCs are big box stores and for OEMs to offer a new "in-between" value product.

By DeepBlue1975 on 3/27/2008 9:35:31 PM , Rating: 1
Low end buyers ain't gonna buy quad cores anytime soon, either from AMD or Intel.

In the quad core arena you only save around $40 if you buy a 2.5ghz phenom or a faster, much better overclocker Q6600 2.4ghz.

By johnadams on 3/28/2008 7:33:38 AM , Rating: 2
Intel is way ahead of AMD this time around, coupled with the vast number of farms they have to produce the chips, achieving economies of scale. AMD was too busy acquiring other companies and attempting to mix GPU and CPU processing together, which imho is a great idea. They probably ran into difficulties trying to make that work.

By joemoedee on 3/28/2008 1:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
AMD was too busy acquiring other companies and attempting to mix GPU and CPU processing together, which imho is a great idea.

It is, however personally, I feel their efforts would have been better served pushing motherboards and motherboard chipset development. Every system needs a motherboard, not every system needs a video card.

Also, the lack of a solid in-house chipset has been the bane of the Opteron's existence. AMD had such an opportunity to score big in the server arena, but did not have the chipsets or stable motherboards available to fully compete with the, up until recently, much lower performing Xeon. Hypertransport was never utilized to its fullest on the server boards, and now with Intel coming out with their own version, the window of opportunity is closing.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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