Advanced Micro Devices is preparing a desktop processor with six processing engines, sources familiar with the company’s plans revealed. The new central processing units (CPUs) will not be available this year, but are likely to boost performance of AMD’s desktop platforms sometime in 2010.
AMD’s processor code-named Thuban is the company’s first desktop processor with six processing engines. The microprocessors will be compatible with socket AM3 infrastructure and will have integrated dual-channel PC3-10600 (DDR3 1333MHz) memory controller. It is very likely that Thuban processors will retain AMD Phenom II brand name as well as design of the code-named Istanbul chips for servers, thus, will feature 3MB L2 cache (512KB per core) and 6MB of L3 cache. The chips will be made using 45nm SOI fabrication process.
Thuban is a star in the constellation of Draco and it also means “dragon” in Arabian language. The new six-core chip should be compatible with existing AM3 infrastructure (and, quite possibly, even with AM2+ infrastructure with split power plane), it remains to be seen whether Thuban becomes a part of AMD’s current high-end desktop platform called Dragon, or will power the company’s next-generation Leo platform.
AMD’s Leo platform will be based on the AMD 890FX and 890GX core-logic sets. The new chipsets will offer better performance and functionality, e.g., they will support Serial ATA-600, 14 Serial ATA 2.0 ports and so on, but both will only hit mass production in April, 2010, and will be formally released in May next year, according to market sources.
Provided that AMD has its Thuban processors ready before May 2010, the company is likely to start shipping them as soon as possible so that to be able to compete for the high-end desktop segment. In fact, it is somewhat surprising that AMD will only be able to offer six-core desktop chip about a year after it started to ship six-core chips for servers. Nevertheless, based on currently available information, AMD Thuban is due only in Q3 2010.
At present AMD does not position its six-core Opteron processors even for single-socket workstations and recommends its customers among makers of dual-socket workstations to stick to quad-core chips due to their higher clock-speeds compared to existing six-core central processing units. At present AMD’s highest-performance six-core chips operate at 2.80GHz, meanwhile, the fastest quad-core CPUs function at 3.40GHz.
With six physical cores AMD will be able to demonstrate rather high performance in multi-tasking and applications that need to execute numerous threads at once. Moreover, as future video games that rely on DirectX 11 start to arrive, the advantages provided by six-core Thuban and Istanbul processors will be even more apparent.
Intel Corp., the larger rival of AMD, plans to unveil its six-core code-named Gulftown chips for desktops in Q2 2010.
AMD did not comment on the story.