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AMD has something for everyone with its new tri-core processors, but quite a lot is still marked "tentative"

AMD picked up big headlines the day before Intel's Fall Developer Forum with the announcement of its upcoming tri-core processors. 

AMD's original release did not specify if this tri-core processor, code named Toliman, would be a totally new processor or merely a stripped-down version of the existing Agena core. The answer, it appears, is both.

In an embargoed corporate roadmap forwarded to DailyTech, details of these new triple-core oddities came to light.

The first triple-core processor, Toliman, is essentially a core-disabled version of the Agena quad-core processor. It includes a full Agena package, including the 2MB of shared L3 cache, with one core disabled.

Toliman, which will eventually herald the AMD Phenom 8000-product name, is scheduled to launch in February 2008 with mass availability in March.  AMD representatives, speaking on conditions of anonymity, confirmed the initial  2.4 GHz Phenom 8700 and 2.3 GHz Phenom 8600 tri-core processors will launch with a 95W thermal envelope.

In late 2008, AMD will shift almost all of its 65nm quad-core offerings to 45nm.  AMD will then follow up these initial quad-core offerings with 45nm dual-core and triple-core processors in 2009. 

The first of these 45nm tri-core processors, codenamed Heka, will launch with DDR2 and DDR3 support.  However, AMD guidance also details that Heka will ship with two different varieties: one with a shared L3 cache, another without.  All 45nm quad-core AMD processors incorporate shared L3 cache, with the exception of the Propus family processor.

AMD guidance goes on to state that all mainstream Phenom quad-core processors, both with shared L3 cache (Deneb) and without (Propus), shipped in 2009 will feature DDR3 exclusively.  Heka, on the other hand, will feature a mix of DDR2 and DDR3 support.

Unfortunately the answers for tri-core only raise further questions.  While Heka has a unique codename, it seems to be a combination of cut-down Deneb and Propus quad-core processors. The logical conclusion would be that Heka is merely excess or defective Deneb and Propus processors from the 2008 launch. 

Yet AMD's roadmap goes on to detail one more chip: RegorRegor, which has always been described by AMD as a dual-core version of Deneb, will make its debut with variable shared L3 cache and a mix of DDR2 and DDR3 support. Could it be that Regor is a core-disabled version of Heka, which is already likely a core-disabled version of Deneb/Propus?

One AMD representative declined to comment on these 45nm processors, stating that 2009 processor launches and specifications are still "tentitive."


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Kind of goofy
By Samus on 12/4/2007 4:11:27 AM , Rating: -1
I'm sure it's just in the best interest of efficiency, if for instance they have bad yeilds of fully functional quad-core packages, but...it's kind of like the celeron version of K10.

However, if it's half the price of a quad core comparable, I'm sold.




RE: Kind of goofy
By Oobu on 12/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: Kind of goofy
By adntaylor on 12/4/2007 4:28:22 AM , Rating: 3
No it's not.... because you needed to use those pixels, and without it your screen looks rubbish. With three cores, your CPU still can run more threads in parallel than a dual core.

And you must really hate cache designers for putting lots of redundancy into their designs so that a few dead transistors don't render the whole CPU unusable.


RE: Kind of goofy
By Oobu on 12/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: Kind of goofy
By bupkus on 12/4/2007 4:49:17 AM , Rating: 5
Cause it's cheaper?


RE: Kind of goofy
By SlyNine on 12/4/2007 5:08:12 AM , Rating: 5
How is it you can compare 4 cores to 3 cores, but not 3 cores to 2 cores,. YOU'RE NOT PAYING FOR 4CORES. You are paying for 3 and you are getting what you paid for.


RE: Kind of goofy
By bupkus on 12/4/2007 5:19:44 AM , Rating: 3
Regardless of whether a core or cache is disabled/isolated because either yields are too high or because yields are low (meaning a core doesn't perform to standards) purchases never perfectly match yields.
Your view that something although functionally equivalent but invisibly different is "broken" is sophomoric. I am certain before the 4 core cpu was even designed that the issues of yield was discussed resulting in a design whereby an isolated 4 to 3 product performed the same with the same power usage as a pure 3 core product.
No product made anywhere is identical to its sibling. Each is slightly different than the other with a statistically definable variance. By your definition, if an item isn't a perfect duplicate of a prototype it would be "broken".


RE: Kind of goofy
By Targon on 12/4/2007 9:02:26 AM , Rating: 2
If a quad-core processor with one failed core is sold as a three core processor, and the failed core is invisible to the OS and is not used, then there is nothing wrong with that since the price will be lower.

You would not see AMD selling a three core processor as a quad-core processor that is slower, so it really would be a three core processor from your perspective, and no harm is done. Price vs. performance is the key here. You don't see people complaining because a 1.8GHz quad-core processor runs slower than a 2.4GHz quad-core processor. As long as the tri-core processors are priced lower than the quad-cores, then it's all good.


RE: Kind of goofy
By kamel5547 on 12/4/2007 11:26:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why even bother with a two core if there are four cores


By the same logic why buy anything but the fastest most expensive CPU. After all a lower clocked CPU is by your example "just" a defective version of the top of the line CPU. In fact its likely it simply wasn't stable enough to run at the fastest speed.

You pick a performance or price point and get what you want at that point. By your logic we should all be shelling out $5K for our PC's, even if what we really wanted to do is browse the internet and do a little word processing (which a single core CPU would be able to handle).


RE: Kind of goofy
By Shlong on 12/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: Kind of goofy
By amanojaku on 12/4/07, Rating: 0
RE: Kind of goofy
By TomZ on 12/4/2007 4:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, since after all, we know a lot of companies that make a lot of money selling garbage. :o)


RE: Kind of goofy
By amanojaku on 12/5/2007 12:33:30 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't mean the single, dual, or tri-cores themselves were garbage. They might be defective as quad-cores, but perfectly fine with less cores and the dysfunctional one turned off. Kind of how you make soup stock from discarded vegetable or chicken parts.


RE: Kind of goofy
By Clauzii on 12/5/2007 12:27:42 AM , Rating: 2
Why the h... did that get downrated?


RE: Kind of goofy
By Mitch101 on 12/4/2007 9:36:48 AM , Rating: 5
GPU's do this all the time. Those ones without a complete set of pipelines as the top end GPU being sold. But they are not dysfunctional. By your logic the 8800GT would be a dysfunctional GPU. That is not the case.


RE: Kind of goofy
By JonnyDough on 12/5/2007 7:09:15 PM , Rating: 1
Technically, AMD and Intel have done this before as well, with disabled caches. What do you think the Dual Core Pentiums are?


RE: Kind of goofy
By Omega215D on 12/4/2007 3:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
Then why don't you say the same about processors that were clocked lower since they couldn't meet the stability requirements when clocked higher?


RE: Kind of goofy
By Regs on 12/4/2007 8:40:13 AM , Rating: 2
weird. I enter the article and for some reason I auto rated you -1. Must be a glitch in the system. Though by posting this takes that away I hope.


RE: Kind of goofy
By Clauzii on 12/4/2007 10:23:56 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, so I'm not alone with funny rating-clicks sometimes.

I click once, but it counts twice - and no, my mouse ain't broke, just in case... :)


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