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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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