Advanced Micro Devices Inc. recently announced channel availability of three new Phenom triple-core desktop processors as part of its packaging of high-definition computing platforms aimed at both enthusiasts and mainstream media users. The two triple-cores shipped last month were only made available to certain OEMs, an AMD spokesperson said.
AMD's 2.4GHz Phenom X3 8750, 2.3GHz Phenom X3 8650 and 2.1GHz Phenom X3 8450 are all shipping and ready to slot into the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chip maker's well-reviewed 780 series chipset as part of a new platform called HD Entertainment Experience aimed at home users. Those processors bring the total number of products in AMD's unique triple-core family to five, supplementing the 2.1-GHz Phenom X3 8400 and 2.3-GHz Phenom X3 8600 released late last month in the opening salvo of AMD's triple-core campaign.
All three new Phenom X3's have 1.5 MB of dedicated L2 cache, 2.0 MB of L3 cache and slot into the 95W thermal envelope, with the X3 8750 initially priced at $195, the X3 8650 at $165 and the X3 8450 at $145, as available in 1,000-unit quantities.
While the X3 8650 and X3 8450 appear to have identical specs, respectively, to the X3 8600 and X3 8400 triple-cores released last month, the 50 designation in the former's model number reflects the fact that the newer chips are built on the B3 silicon that corrects the TLB errata that affected AMD's initial fabrications of its quad-core Opteron, quad-core Phenom and apparently, triple-core Phenom processors late last year.
The X3 8600 and X3 8400 processors previously released were only shipped to OEMs due to the presence of the well-publicized—if exceedingly rare—processor problems associated with the TLB glitch, an AMD product testing spokesman said.
"The B2 silicon went to the OEMs, but the channel wanted the fastest, best-performing parts without the TLB errata, on the B3 silicon," said Damon Munzy of AMD's New Product Review Program.
AMD's HD desktop platforms include the mainstream HD Entertainment Experience, which features the X3 8000 series triple-cores, 780 series chipsets, offering full HD 1080p video playback and ATI hybrid graphics; and the upstream HD Enthusiast Experience, formerly code-named Spider, which features the chip maker's quad-core X4 9000 series of processors, its 790 series boards, ATI CrossFireX scalability to four graphics processors and the AMD OverDrive overclocking tool.
Even with rival Intel Corp. slashing prices for some of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip leader's older desktop quad-cores, AMD still believes there is a slot in the market for its triple-core products.
"Retail has still been selling dual-cores at a high clip. If you look at a line graph, with the high sales of dual vs. the relatively flat sales of quad, it tells you there's a big donut hole for triple-core," said Brent Barry, desktop product manager at AMD.
Matt Wilkins, a principal analyst at research firm iSuppli Corp., El Segundo, Calif., said that if AMD can find the right pricing for its triple-cores, the chip maker could have an interesting offering on its hands.
"Quad-core is going to be at the high end of desktop CPUs. The triple-core will be at the lower end of the high end and encroaching on the mainstream. I think that it's been priced by AMD to fit into that area fairly well," Wilkins said. "The tri-core product is an interesting offering. Clearly, Intel doesn't have one."
Wilkins and iSuppli reported that AMD slightly outgained larger rival Intel for the fourth quarter of 2007 in growing its share of the global microprocessor market. AMD grew its share in 4Q by 0.3 percentage points over 4Q compared with Intel's gain of 0.2 points sequentially, according to iSuppli.