AMD Shipping Tri-Core Toliman Processors

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AMD has just started shipping its latest processor offering, comprised of triple-core Phenom processors, also known as Tolimans. At the moment, the chip manufacturer is only shipping the chips to OEM vendors and system integrators, but they are not available through AMD's retail channels yet. The chips are 65-nanometer processors that will power AM2+ motherboards supporting HyperTransport 3. They will be included in the Phenom X3 product family, comprised of quad-core chips that come with one of the cores disabled.

The chips are alleged to come with 2MB of L3 cache, but the chip manufacturer declined to offer further details about the processors' technical specifications. However, top-tier PC vendors including Dell and Hewlett-Packard have already announced tri-core Phenom-powered computing systems.

For instance, Dell has listed the technical specifications of its OptiPlex 740 business desktop systems, that will come with a tri-core CPU featuring 1.5 MB of L2 cache and 2MB of shared L3 cache. Dell's tri-core update to the OptiPlex 740 family will start shipping during the second quarter of the year. Hewlett-Packard is currently working on a desktop system powered by the Phenom 8600B tri-core processor that is alleged to reach core frequencies of 2.3 GHz. The 8600B chip will also feature 1.5 MB of L2 cache and 2MB of shared L3 cache.

UK-based PC vendor Mesh Computer has already unveiled its tri-core CPU-powered desktop systems. Both the Matrix XXX Plus and the Matrix XXX Pro computer models are built around the same AMD's Phenom 8600 tri-core processor.

Advanced Micro devices is touting its new tri-core offering as being a better choice than dual-core chips, as the third core will bring additional horsepower in performing mundane, yet CPU cycles-consuming tasks, such as antivirus scanning. However, there are a few problems that need AMD's attention. First of all, the tri-cores will be built on the already buggy B2 silicon stepping, that will require a BIOS patch in order to work normally. This means that the chip will lose 15 percent of its computing power to ensure its stability. Previous rumors claim that the three-core processors will be available to OEM vendors only, so it's going to be a long time until you see boxed versions of the Phenom 8400 running at 2.3GHz and the 8600 running at 2.3 GHz.

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