AMD has begun shipping triple-core Phenom processors.
The company had promised the Phenom 8000 series would ship by the end of Q1, so this seems to be a sign that AMD is getting things back on track. There is no press release on its site and the new Phenoms do not yet appear on the company's official price list, but PC World says AMD confirmed it is shipping a limited number of the new chips to major PC companies.
Dell and HP both appear to have plans to use the triple-core chip, most likely the 2.3Ghz Phenom 8600, in business desktops. And a UK-based PC company, Mesh Networks, is already offering models with a 2.1GHz Phenom 8400 and 2.3GHz Phenom 8600.
Separately, Daily Tech reported that AMD is now shipping a new version of the quad-core Opteron and Phenom chips. These are the "B3 stepping" that should eliminate the issues with the cache in the initial Barcelona design. Key server customers had been testing these chips earlier this year, so this was expected. After filling orders from computer manufacturers, the new Opteron and Phenom B3s should be available in boxed versions at retail sometime in April. (This should include the 2.2GHz Phenom 9550, 2.3GHz Phenom 9650, and 2.4GHz 9750, according to other reports.)
The new B3 versions of Opteron and Phenom chips have the letters "GH" at the end of the product number. Credit: Anandtech.
Anandtech has tested a B3 2.2Ghz Phenom versus an earlier 2.3GHz AMD Phenom 9600--with and without the workaround that fixes the cache problem but degrades performance. It concluded that "all is good with B3. . . [but] it will take a combination of higher clock speeds and very competitive pricing to really save Phenom."
Those faster Phenoms are on the roadmap for later this year, but first AMD says it plans to ship low-power versions of the quad-core chips. As these new processors begin to ship in volume, AMD will also cut prices in early April on the older Phenom, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon and Sempron chips, according to X-bit Labs.