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New Phenom triple-core processor coming in 2008

AMD today updated its roadmap with another multi-core processor, to slot between its dual and quad-core processors – Phenom triple-core processors. The new Phenom triple-core processors feature three processing cores on a single die and based on AMD’s Barcelona architecture, which launched last week in Opteron form.

The new triple-core processors will feature similar specifications as its upcoming Phenom X2 and X4 brethren. The Socket AM2+ processors feature 512KB of L2 cache for each core and a shared pool of L3 cache. Essentially, the Phenom triple-core processors are quad-core variants with one core disabled. This allows AMD to simply disable one core on quad-core dies for maximum use of a single wafer.

AMD claims to be the only company to offer tri-core processors, which the company claims to bring “true multi-core technology to a broader audience.” AMD has not given the Phenom triple-core processors an official name yet. However, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the tri-core processors followed the current Phenon naming scheme and received the Phenom X3 name.

“With our advanced multi-core architecture, AMD is in a unique position to enable a wider range of premium desktop solutions, providing a smarter choice for customers and end users,” said Greg White, vice president and general manager, Desktop Division, AMD. “As a customer-centric company, AMD is committed to working with our OEMs to deliver compelling value propositions across their multi-core product families with capabilities that address their requirements and aspirations.”

Features unique to AMD’s Barcelona and Stars architectures such as split power planes and dynamic independent core speed adjustments remain supported on triple-core processors. Additionally, AMD Phenom triple-core processors support HyperTransport 3.0 for up to 16GB/second of I/O bandwidth.

AMD claims significant performance gains over dual-core processors with its triple-core processors in benchmarks such as SYSmark 2007 and 3DMark06, where gaming and digital content creation performance is key.

“A continued commitment to elegant design and innovative processor architecture is instrumental to revolutionizing the technology industry,” said Richard Shim, research manager for IDC's Personal Computing program. “The advent of triple-core processors is a valuable market opportunity for customers to deliver end users compelling solutions and further differentiate on the desktop.”

Expect AMD to launch its Phenom triple-core processors in Q1 2008. AMD plans to launch its quad-core Phenom X4 next quarter.

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RE: Simple questions & economics
By TomZ on 9/18/2007 1:17:56 PM , Rating: 0
So ultimately they stand a chance of fragging the dual core market, and forcing Intel to make their money off of quad cores

Intel has already made it clear they intend to eliminate the dual-core market, considering the product offerings, roadmaps, and pricing of quad-core. Therefore, I question AMD's wisdom in offering 3-core. Next year 2-core will be only for cheapie PCs and 4-core will dominate - how does 3-core fit in at all?

AMD's 3-core would have been nice 2 years ago, but today the idea would seem to suck. Maybe I'll be proven wrong.

RE: Simple questions & economics
By BitJunkie on 9/18/2007 4:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
I guess the way I see it is that 3-core AMD processors will be competative in terms of price and performance with Intel 2-core processors. With the right marketing spin they may gain some advantage and dominate the high volume low margin sales using silicon that would have been thrown away. "Three for the price of Two" anyone?

That premise being that "Next year 2-core will be only for cheapie PCs" will become "Next year 3-core will be only for cheapie PCs". As for what happens to intel 2-core CPUs at that point, who knows, maybe they'll be used to make recycled building materials? :)

RE: Simple questions & economics
By TomZ on 9/18/2007 4:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and I see what you're saying. I guess a lot depends on how things price out in the end. I just think that since Intel doesn't have a 3-core (yet?), they may peg their 4-core processor at that same price point. I guess we'll see.

RE: Simple questions & economics
By CyborgTMT on 9/18/2007 5:11:51 PM , Rating: 2
The 3 core offering can also be competitive to high end quads if AMD handles this the right way. I'll use some simplified numbers since this is all speculation at this point anyway.

Lets say a 3.0 GHz quad core sells for $1000 while a step down quad at 2.8 sells for $900. With the 2.8 GHz part that is the highest stable speed across all 4 cores but, what if 3 of those cores can run at 3.4 GHz? AMD can cut out the 2.8 core and sell it as a tri-core running at 3.4 which should match or beat the 3.0 quad in performance in a lot of apps. This will allow AMD to sell what was originally a $900 part for $1000 or more.

RE: Simple questions & economics
By CyborgTMT on 9/18/2007 5:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
Another thought I just had.... If AMD 'kills' the cores in a way that the end user can change this will really be interesting. On one end of the spectrum if you can reactivate a 'dead' core you can get a quad version cheaper. Granted that is if the last core wasn't cut off because it's completely dead. I would be more willing to bet that the 'bad' core can't hit the target GHz within the right thermal envelope. Nothing a good 3rd party cooling solution can't fix. Or you can take it to the other extreme where a fully functional high end quad can have the slowest core disabled and overclocked much higher.

RE: Simple questions & economics
By zornundo on 9/20/2007 10:22:03 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if its not a case of capacity increasing with every die shrink. As dies shrink and yield goes up, Intel may be stuck with so many processors that they only want to offer quad-core goodies or they will oversupply the market with dual-cores.

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