AMD to ship first six-core desktop processor in Q2

AMD shows off upcoming chip at Cebit

Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday said its first six-core processor for desktops will ship in the second quarter of this year.

The processor will be called Phenom II X6, an AMD spokesman said. The company displayed a working unit of the chip in a desktop at the Cebit trade show being held in Hanover, Germany.

The company declined to comment on specific details about the chip, including the speed and cache size. However, the company has said it would go into desktops targeted at enthusiasts like gamers. AMD already offers six-core Opteron chips for servers.

AMD announced the processor's shipment date just a few days after details about Intel's first six-core chip for desktops, called Core i7-980 Extreme Edition, surfaced on the site of German retailer Alternate.

AMD initially announced the chip, code-named Thuban, during the financial analyst day in November. At the time the company said the processor would be manufactured using the 45-nanometer process. Intel's six-core chip, code-named Gulftown, will be manufactured using the 32-nm process.

AMD currently offers dual-core and quad-core Phenom II chips for desktops.

That six-core chip is a targeted at a very small segment of the market that includes gamers, video producers and corporate workstation users, said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat. The chips are designed to run applications that require a lot of processing power, like 3D gaming or engineering applications.

"Does it mean something for the average consumer? No. Would it be absolute overkill? Yes," McGregor said. Desktops with six-core processors will be expensive, and for most average consumers dual-core and quad-core systems are adequate, he said.

Intel and AMD will also try to use the six-core chips to capture the performance crown, he said. Intel would seem to have an edge because of the advanced manufacturing process and the ability to run two threads per core, but in terms of cost, AMD may hold an advantage, McGregor said.

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