AMD Launches Triple- And Quad-Core Desktop Chips

By Andy Patrizio

March 27, 2008

High-end and low-power quad-cores show AMD can still deliver.

After months of missteps and delays related to its quad-core Barcelona chip for servers, AMD today showed it can still deliver with the announcement of triple-core Phenom processors, high-end quad-core Phenoms and a low power quad-core processor.

The triple-core processor is meant to offer a more affordable option to customers seeking a middle ground of pricing between the dual-core Athlon and quad-core Phenom. AMD (NYSE: AMD) claims that the dual core processors offer a 30 percent improvement in multithreaded applications over the dual core chip.

The triple-core family will carry the X3 8x00 product name, and the first two are the 8400 (2.1Ghz) and 8600 (2.3Ghz). Triple-core based systems are expected from computer makers by the end of the month. AMD expects the triple-core chips to run from $150 and up, while quad core chips are $209 and up.

"We're aiming for that sweet spot of the mid- to high-end mainstream part of the market where there is a great amount of value and a large amount of potential unit sales for market share," said Leslie Sobon, director of desktop product marketing on a teleconference announcing the chips.

For those demanding a little more power, AMD introduced the Phenom X4 9750 and 9850 Black Edition, running at 2.4GHz and 2.5GHz, respectively. The X4 9850 Black Edition means the clock is unlocked, so over-clockers, who like tweaking their system, can fiddle with it to get more speed.

The X4 line launched earlier this year with the 2.2Ghz 9550 and 2.3GHz 9650. These faster chips were supposed to ship sooner but AMD moved them a few steps back of the line to get the triple-core chips out.

The 9850 and 9750, combined with AMD's new 790FX chipset, is best suited for digital media, Blu-ray playback and high-end gaming, making them idea for AMD's high performance Spider platform, announced last year.

"Consumer pain is around digital media and gaming. We think with the Spider platform, we can solve those problems around media and gaming," said Simon Solotko, desktop brand manager, also on the teleconference.

The 9750 and 9850 will be available to computer makers and other volume customers at pricing of $209 and $229, respectively. Computer based on the new chips are expected in stores by the end of the month.

Finally, AMD announced a 65 watt quad-core desktop processor, the Phenom X4 9100e. There's a performance trade-off to get the power draw that low; it runs at only 1.8Ghz. But the company thinks people want the power efficiency and intends to expand its offerings in this area. "The 9100e is just the beginning. We have a whole line of energy efficient processors, all 65 watt, from quad core to triple core to dual core," said Solotko.

Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research, said the products represent a modest bump but at least they show AMD to be back on track after all of its travails. "It shows they have a roadmap and some of the glitches with Phenom on launch are behind them," he told InternetNews.com. He said the launch coincides nicely with the spring product refresh from OEMs like HP and Dell.



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