RealTime IT News

AMD Plans Triple-Core Desktop Processor

SAN FRANCISCO-- One day in advance of the Intel Developer Forum and AMD decided to thrown down a new and unusual challenge. The company announced a tri-core processor for desktop users, due in the first quarter of next year.

AMD  is on track to release Phenom, the four-core successor to the Athlon line in the fourth quarter of this year. But it also intends to take those four-core processors, disable one of them, and offer them as a more affordable tri-core processor.

The company noted that according to market research firm Mercury Research, quad-core desktop sales – of which Intel  is the only vendor – were only two percent of total sales. It argued that an affordable middle ground was needed between dual and quad-core.

"Triple-core is the right product at the right time to serve a broad swath of the market," Bob Brewer, corporate vice president for strategy and marketing at AMD told a gathering of reporters in San Francisco. "There's a wide range of space to occupy for single, dual, triple and quad-core designs with little overlap."

Some of the journalists gathered didn't seem sold on the notion and AMD was not forthcoming when it came to pricing between the two-, three- and four-core processors, but analysts are taking a wait-and-see approach. "There's always applications for it," Richard Shim, analyst with IDC, told InternetNews.com.

"It provides them another tier and essentially gives them another product to sell to customers. It really will depend on how OEMs pick it up and how they sell it to customers. I wouldn't write it off just yet. We have to see what kinds of usage models are used with these chips," he said.

Nathan Brookwood of Insight64 also sees potential for the chips. "They [tri-core chips] can run them at a higher clock speed and stay in the same thermal envelopes. So I have a feeling the tri-core chips could be clocked 20 percent higher than a quad core. Which would you have?" he asked.

AMD also announced a new integrated chipset for motherboards, called the RS 780, due in the first quarter of 2008. It will offer very high performance for an integrated chipset, since video isn't usually the strong point of those chipsets. The video will support Direct X 10, which comes with Windows Vista for high-end gaming.

The 780 chipset will also come with a technology called UVD to improve playback of Blu-ray and HD DVD high-definition movies and support for DisplayPort, a new high-end video interface that competes with HDMI .

AMD also announced a new platform for enthusiasts called Spider, due in the fourth quarter. Spider is Phenom-based, which will include a new GPU with better performance per watt, tweaks to support multiple video cards in one PC and a new utility called Tweaker's Delight, which will allow hobbyists to tinker with their PC to their heart's content—or until it explodes.