AMD confirms six-core "Thuban" processors

AMD confirms six-core "Thuban" processors

Summary: Big news from AMD. Not only has the chip maker confirmed that it will release a six-core processor sometime next year, but that the piece will be backwards compatible with existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards.

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Big news from AMD. Not only has the chip maker confirmed that it will release a six-core processor sometime next year, but that the piece will be backwards compatible with existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards.

The processor, codenamed "Thuban" is based on 45nm architecture and will feature an integrated DDR2/DDR3 controller. The chip is based on AMD's six-core Opteron chip. It is expected that the piece will be called Phenom II X6.

While not announced, I expect that the part will have expected to have 3MB of L2 and 6MB of L3 cache. As for clock speeds, it is likely to lower than that of AMD's quad core parts in order to keep the heat down.

It's interesting that AMD is choosing to support existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards with this new technology - that should be of great interest to those interesting in upgrading.

All questions relating to price and exact availability have to remain as questions for the time being.

My biggest question relating to six-core CPUs is this - will users see a benefit? Going from single core to dual-core is a huge leap in performance, and depending on what you are using your PC for, four cores can be worth the cost. But at present I'm somewhat skeptical as to the performance gains of going beyond four cores. I really want to see software catch up with the multi-core thinking. As single-core fades into the past, and quad-core CPUs fall to under $100, I think that developers will have to start making better use of multiple cores available to them.

Topics: Hardware, CXO, Networking, Processors, IT Employment

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9 comments
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  • Core Usage

    Quite a lot of software has some catching up to do. Most people will be able to get by on dual cores and even single cores.

    As gaming software is requiring ever more processing and graphics most high end gamers will benefit from a quad core. After getting into HD video I have found out as with anything related to rendering you can never have too much. Finally one of your better articles.
    docquesting
  • RE: AMD confirms six-core

    I remember when more than 8 megs of ram was way overkill, when CD rom will never go faster than 6 or 8 times.
    When I first started being a repairman we had 8080a chips and have seen it through to now.
    6 cores? Someone will figure out a use for it.
    Wait a couple years, there will be something new and maybe not even speed or more cores but something really new.
    Like Pentium was new to 86 chips.

    MoeFugger
  • RE: AMD confirms six-core

    Too soon. As others have said, too much software is still lacking in effective use of quad core to make a 6 core worthwhile.

    The only great thing about a 6 core processor is the ability to call it a sechs (sex) core processor.
    cracker1
  • Six is still not enough power. I want more, cheaper.

    Money is my limiting factor or I would already have at least one 4-core x 2 CPU machine.

    Everybody has a different roadmap to greater processing power. But this his is a push in the right direction for AMD. More power for existing ram and motherboard technology is great.
    djchandler
  • RE: AMD confirms six-core

    Six cores is perfect. You have the virus scanner, the malware scanner, the Vista file index process, the background update for virus holes process and the virus itself running to steal your keystrokes. That leaves one core left over to browse for a new virus scanner.
    tburzio
  • RE: AMD confirms six-core

    "My biggest question relating to six-core CPUs is this - will users see a benefit? Going from single core to dual-core is a huge leap in performance, and depending on what you are using your PC for, four cores can be worth the cost. But at present I?m somewhat skeptical as to the performance gains of going beyond four cores. I really want to see software catch up with the multi-core thinking. As single-core fades into the past, and quad-core CPUs fall to under $100, I think that developers will have to start making better use of multiple cores available to them."

    This is a moot point. If it didn't mattered, then why is Intel introducing back to their CPU's processing cores SMT (or as they call it, HT)? Of course it matters, and to some AMD will still be "lagging behind" because they'll have 6 threads instead of the potential 8 threads in SMT enabled Intel quad core CPUs... However, let us not forget that those threads will not run at the CPU's full speed.
    gmureddu
  • RE: AMD confirms six-core

    Definately a step in the right direction for power affliciandos like myself who can easily find something to keep it busy with. However, asside from heavy gamers, I still don't see the average user needing more than 2 cores. Even the 4 core multimedia machines that one can buy at your local Future Shop, most users buy them cause they were talked into it or it looks flashy, they usually can't bring out even close to the machine's potiential.

    Point: Limited market.
    blackepyon01
  • You're right, 6 cores would be a niche

    market, as 2 to 4 will be plenty, maybe overkill (in regards to quad) for quite a number of users.

    There was a piece done, I think it was Tom's Hardware, that showed performance difference between 2, 3, and 4 cores, and that for many gamers there wasn't a lot of performance increase from 3 to 4 cores. If they're saying that about the gaming arena,this will be a lot more true for "average" users that mainly only use a computer for browsing, email, and messaging.

    To me, it's like the megapixel race with digital cameras. Finally manufacturers are stopping around 10 to 12 megapixels, and instead concentrating on things like picture quality, low light shooting, etc.

    I'm betting the CPU will be like this for a few years, and AMD would probably have been better served looking at 32nm architecture, or at least more seriously entrenching themselves in certain markets... like optimizing their CPU for laptop and netbook use, or other small factor computing needs. That market looks like it will only grow, not shrink. The manufacture that is considered the defacto there could have a huge advantage in the years ahead.

    I can understand AMD fighting for server share, I don't know why they are wasting resources for the desktop market (even though I use AMDs in my desktops), when there is a huge market coming to bare in China and other Asian nations where small is in.

    What it looks like is Japan is sneaking into the chip manufacture for small form computing, and they and not Intel or AMD will capture the small form market while no one is really paying attention.
    Drakaran
    • Overall ...

      I agree, just like clock speed became mostly irrelevant, I think cores might go the same way. Problem is, what does that leave marketing ... TDP? Operations per second? A catchy name?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes