AMD Phenom triple-core coming soon

AMD's triple-core Phenom processors should be arriving soon. AMD will release the triple-core version, known by the code-name Toliman, in March for computer makers only. In other words, you won't be able buy boxed versions of the Phenom 8000 yet.

AMD's triple-core Phenom processors should be arriving soon. The company said last month that shipping the new Phenom 8000 series--along with fixing the problem plaguing its Barcelona server and desktop chips, and releasing a low-power version of Phenom--were its top priorities this quarter. According to a report at DigiTimes, AMD will release the triple-core version, known by the code-name Toliman, in March for OEMs only. In other words, you won't be able buy boxed versions of the Phenom 8000 yet. The site had previously said these first triple-cores will be the 2.1GHz Phenom 8400 and 2.3GHz 8600.

These will be B2 "stepping," or version, of the chip, which means they have the same potential issue with the cache, and a workaround for this problem causes a performance hit of as much as 15%. So why would OEMs want to offer desktops using the first Phenom 8000s? The same reason Gateway, HP and others sell desktops with B2 steppings of the quad-core Phenoms: price. The official tray price (in quantities of 1,000) of the 2.2GHz Phenom 9500 quad-core is $209, but you can get it on Newegg for $190. So the Phenom 8000s will presumably need to be priced well south of $200, which means they will quickly bump against the fastest dual-core chip, the 3.2GHz Athlon 64 X2 6400+, which has tray price of $178 and sells in retail for about $165 to $175. It will be interesting to see how these stack up in terms of price and performance.

AMD says it has fixed the cache problem with Barcelona, and by now server customers should already be testing samples of the B3 stepping, but it won't be until Q2 that the B3 versions of the server and desktop chips will be available in any real quantity. Before then we should also see a 65W version of the Phenom quad-core (the current versions have a TDP of 95W), but AMD has been very quiet about faster versions of the processor--once a top priority. Also on its 2008 roadmap: faster Phenom 8000s, dual-core Phenoms, a new laptop platform (Puma) and a shift from 65nm to 45 process technology.

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