System makers to introduce tri-core AMD processors this week

Roadmaps from AMD indicate Dell and Hewlett-Packard will introduce low-end computers based on triple-core AMD Phenom processors this week.

Dell Optiplex computers, targeting the sub-$600 market, will be the first to receive the new triple-core treatment.  HP Pavilion desktops will follow shortly after in the sub-$600 and sub-$500 segments.  True to the botched announcement earlier this month, Dell will not introduce any of the new AMD processors in its Inspiron desktops. 

The new systems will begin to replace Optiplex and Pavilion computers that use AMD Athlon X2 dual-core processors. AMD was to discontinue the majority of its Athlon X2 lineup, but delays with its quad-core Phenom architecture continue to stretch the lifespan of its K8 architecture. 

The new triple-core processors, codenamed Toliman, will debut with frequencies as high as 2.3 GHz.  Toliman processors feature all of the same capabilities of the high-end Agena processors with the exception of one disabled processor core.   This includes 2MB of shared L3 cache and 512KB per core of unshared L2 cache.

In addition to the B2-stepping Toliman processors, AMD will introduce one more B2 Opteron this month: an energy efficient quad-core Barcelona processor. These two processors are the last B2 processors in AMD's arsenal -- the company will officially unveil its B3-stepping processors late next month. 

AMD would not comment when, or if, the tri-core processors would make a splash into the retail channel.

B3 processors are unaffected by the TLB bug announced by AMD late last year.  Although the bug is extremely difficult to replicate, the AMD-mandated B2 workaround can hamper Phenom and Opteron performance dramatically.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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