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Advanced Micro Devices this week officially confirmed intentions to release six-core microprocessors for desktops next-year. As reported earlier, the new chip is code-named Thuban and is likely to be sold under Phenom II X6 brand.

“I can confirm that AMD is planning on introducing a six-core processor for our enthusiast desktop lineup next year. It will be a ‘Stars’ core supporting DDR3,” said Damon Muzny, a spokesman for AMD.

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/AM2+ (with split power plane) 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.

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.

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 Core i9 “Gulftown” chips for desktops in Q2 2010.

Tags: AMD, Thuban, Phenom, 45nm, Istanbul

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