AMD battles Intel on price with six-core desktop chips

AMD's new six-core chips are substantially less expensive than Intel's latest six-core chip

Advanced Micro Devices is trying to beat Intel on price with its latest six-core desktop Phenom II X6 processors, which were announced on Tuesday.

AMD is shipping two X6 processors that are substantially less pricey than Intel's latest six-core Core i7-980XM desktop processor, which was announced last month. The Phenom II X6 1090T processor runs at 3.2GHz and is priced at US$295, while the 1055T, which runs at 2.8GHz, is priced at $199. Intel's Core i7-980XM desktop processor is priced at $999, according to a price list on Intel's Web site.

The X6 chips are targeted at gamers and buyers looking for high-performance desktops, said Adam Kozak, platform marketing manager at AMD. The chips are the fastest yet in AMD's desktop processor lineup.

Kozak admitted that Intel's Core i7-980XM chip will be faster on some threaded applications, but buyers may get more bang for the buck with AMD's six-core offerings. Buyers will be able to configure high-end gaming desktops at prices equaling the cost of Intel's chip alone.

"[Intel's] six-core part is going to be faster, but it's about the value equation," Kozak said.

Enthusiasts tend to judge systems by performance, but price could be a differentiating factor for those with less to spend, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

AMD's chips hold an advantage in performance-per-dollar, but those looking for performance will be loyal to Intel's processors, McCarron said. But the enthusiast market is small, and Intel may not make drastic price changes or architectural changes in light of the pricing competition waged by AMD, he said.

"There's not a whole lot of incentive for Intel to change price points," he said.

AMD already offers six-core Opteron chips for servers code-named Istanbul, and late last month launched 12-core server processors code-named Magny-Cours. The X6 is based on the Istanbul design, Kozak said. It will include 6MB of L3 cache and draw up to 125 watts of power.

The X6 processors include the company's new Turbo Core technology, which speeds up processor cores by up to 500MHz. With the technology, the 1090T processor could run at up to 3.6GHz while the 1055T will be able to run at up to 3.3GHz.

The X6 processor is part of the company's Leo platform, in which AMD bundles an ATI 5000 graphics card for desktop PCs. Users will also be able to connect up to six monitors to systems with the graphics cards, Kozak said. The graphics cards support DirectX 11, which should bring improved graphics and application performance to Windows 7 desktops, Kozak said.

Desktops with Phenom II X6 chips will also work with Nvidia graphics cards.

Companies including CyberPower, Velocity Micro and iBuyPower will be launching systems based on the Leo platform, AMD said.

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