AMD, ZT Systems Ship Triple-Core Phenom Chips


Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday announced that it is partnering with system builder ZT Systems to premiere the first PC featuring AMD's Phenom X3 8000 series of triple-core x86 microprocessors. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD announced plans for a unique triple-core client chip last September and in mid-March confirmed that the chip formerly codenamed Toliman was shipping to OEMs and system builders.

In AMD's announcement, the company referred to the 2.1GHz Phenom X3 8400 and 2.3GHz Phenom X3 8600, but sources told ChannelWeb that the parts are actually designated as 8450 and 8650 to reflect the successful fix of a major glitch that affected earlier editions of Phenom and Opteron server/workstation processors.

Pricing for those parts was unavailable on AMD's Web site, but a source said the 8400/8450 was priced at $159 per device in 1,000-unit trays, the 8600/8650 at $179. The same source said a third triple-core Phenom was shipping to OEMs and system builders, the 2.4GHz 8750 priced at just over $200.

AMD and ZT Systems are set to showcase their triple-core system on QVC's "Computer Shop" show, scheduled to air March 31 at 10pm EDT.

The new Phenoms are targeted at what AMD characterizes as an untapped market segment that wants more than dual-core processing but isn't ready to pony up for the higher price points of quad-core. The chip maker believes its 65nm-proccess triple-cores will appeal to consumers and businesses with a "greater than 30 percent improvements in multi-threaded application performance in comparison to dual-core processors at the same clock speed."

"We've had a lot of questions about scaling. In highly multi-threaded applications, like digital media-type and rendering-type apps, we're seeing an average of about 30 percent [performance] uplift between dual-core and triple-core, then 20 percent uplift from triple to quad," said Leslie Sobon, director of product and brand management for AMD's Desktop Division.

She said AMD would couple triple-core Phenoms with its new 780G chipset in a platform codenamed Cartwheel. The recently released 780 chipset from AMD's ATI graphics division has received generally positive reviews from testing bodies, including ChannelWeb's own Test Center.

The triple-core line gives AMD a "unique" product, said Brian Corn, VP of marketing and business development at Waltham, Mass.-based system builder Source Code.

"I'm trying to figure out where the product fits into our mix, because it's unique. It's going to hit a price point a little bit lower than the quads. There story's going to be, hey, we're giving you a third core. You can push off anti-virus to the third core, then have a dual-core doing your desktop apps," he said.

"AMD still has that advantage to be able to do this because of their HyperTransport technology. I'm trying to figure out what to place it up against because it's so unique, but I think the AMD loyalists will be there and they'll snap it up," Corn said.

Joe Toste of Equus Computer Systems VP called the triple-core Phenoms "different and unique," while offering a glowing review of the 780 chipset.

"It's a very interesting platform. We think in some markets it's going to be a phenomenal platform, maybe better than the Intel solution. And that makes Intel work harder, which is a good thing," said Toste, VP of marketing at the Minneapolis, Minn.-based system builder.

AMD on Thursday also announced the availability of the Phenom X49100e quad-core processors, which it characterized as "a cool and quiet digital media workhorse." The new quad-cores soak up a mere 65 watts and feature AMD's Multi-Point Thermal Control, which places "multiple sensors across processor silicon designed to automatically reduce speed and heat when temperature exceeds pre-defined limits."