AMD launches triple-core processsor
AMD has announced the first ever triple-core x86 processor, part of its upcoming Phenom range, to complement its dual and quad-core chips.
The chips are expected in the first quarter of 2008, and will be the first triple-core processors on the market.
AMD claims that because many applications and games are now designed with dual-core processors in mind, a third core could be beneficial by taking care of background tasks, such as virus scanning. This could be a boon for gaming, where a scheduled background task can temporarily slow gameplay.
The chips won’t be a true triple-core design, but a quad-core chip with one core disabled and only three functioning sets of L2 cache. This removes the need to set up a new production line, and will help to keep costs to a minimum.
A financial benefit for AMD is the fact that defective quad-core processors can now potentially be sold as triple-core, if the defects are confined only to one of the four cores.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to create a chip that has its performance deliberately crippled, it will create a wider product range for AMD – customers will be able to choose between a range of single, double, triple or quad cores at various price points. The practise of selling ‘defective’ CPUs at a lower price point is hardly new; Intel’s 486SX processor, sold in the 1990s, was a 486DX part with the maths co-processor disabled.
AMD isn’t making any specific claims about performance, except to say that the new chips will provide a significant boost over dual-core offerings, and appeal to a broader audience.
There’s been no comment on pricing, but it will have to be very competitive to prevent customers opting for lower-end quad-core options instead.