AMD has provided further details of its new Phenom processors, including quad-core chips and its first triple-core version for desktop PCs.
The company's triple-core Phenom X3 8000 series processors provide an option to mainstream PC buyers who don't want to spend on a quad-core processor but are looking for more performance than a dual-core processor, said Pat Moorhead, vice president of advanced marketing at AMD.
See also: Triple-core AMD Phenom PCs how available
The chips could be used for high-definition video playback, casual mainstream gaming and productivity applications, Moorhead said.
The company's first triple-core processors include the Phenom X3 8400, which runs at 2.1GHz, and the Phenom X3 8600, which runs at 2.3GHz. Both will come with 1.5MB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache.
AMD also launched three Phenom quad-core processors - the Phenom X4 9750, which runs at 2.4GHz; the Phenom X4 9850, which runs at 2.5GHz; and the Phenom 9100e, a low-voltage quad-core processor that runs at 1.8GHz and has a 65W power envelope during maximum usage. All the processors contain 2MB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache.
PC makers will ship products with the quad-core processors in the second quarter, AMD said.
The triple-core processors are already shipping in volume to PC makers, AMD said. Many major vendors, including Dell and HP, have already hinted at including the processors in desktops, at least in the US.
Dell has listed plans to use the chip in its OptiPlex 740 business desktop systems. It will ship the triple-core OptiPlex in the second quarter, a company spokeswoman recently said, but she declined to specify which processor will run the desktop.
UK PC maker Mesh Computers is already offering the Matrix XXX Plus desktop with the Phenom X3 8400 processor and the Matrix XXX Pro desktop with the Phenom 8600 processor.
Because the triple-core chip is a new concept - set between the widely accepted dual- and quad-cores - it's unclear how it will fit in the market, said Dean McCarron, founder and principal at Mercury Research.
"You're going to get a performance enhancement with the extra core above and beyond a dual-core," McCarron said. But it also falls shy of a quad-core.
AMD designed the triple-core as a way to produce a cheaper chip. The triple-core processor is built on a quad-core CPU, with one core nonfunctional, McCarron said.
The triple-core chip gives AMD a tactical advantage over Intel, McCarron said. Intel will need to answer the triple-core chip with a product priced in the same range while delivering similar performance. Intel can take a dual-core or quad-core processor, adjust features like cache, and price it similar to AMD's triple-core processor, McCarron said.