Sunday, May 02, 2010

Thuban arrives

With so many rumors and leaks about AMD's newly launched Phenom II X6 processors, it's not surprising then that there's a lot already known before hand. The verdict is simple: it offers a lot of multi-thread headroom for much cheaper than Intel's offerings and is not much different than the older Phenom II X4 in performance.

Still interested?

To put things simply, AMD is offering the cheapest 6 cores you'll find anywhere. If you absolutely must have 6 cores but lack the funds for Intel's insane $1000 price tag, then you know where to shop. So, what do you get for less than $300?

Turbo CORE - AMD's answer to Intel's Turbo Boost isn't as refined but it does give a perceivable boost to single thread performance. It's enough to better AMD's own offerings when 3 or less cores are used, but the quirk in AMD's implementation means that you'll get worse performance with exactly 4 cores compared to AMD's older quad cores.

AM2+/AM3 compatibility - Most older boards based on the 7-series chipset should work fine after a BIOS update. There's no need for a total revamp if you already own a fairly recent AMD desktop.

Hexa cores - Well, there's now 6 processing cores in there which gives your computer some breathing room for future growth.

125W TDP - It's still the same power envelope as older Phenom II X4 CPUs which means more performance got squeezed into a smaller power draw.

Overclockable - Various review sites shows the new flagship can overclock to 4GHz on air. As always, there's an element of luck when buying CPUs but generally things should be about the same. Otherwise, AMD wouldn't be able to offer Turbo CORE, right?

Yet the year is nearly half over. By this time next year my guess is we'll be drooling over Llano. Four of these wonderful cores will be shrunk to 32nm SOI High-K process and offered as an APU with an integrated GPU. If the present rumors are true, that will be 480 stream processors.

That sounds like enough processing power to play many of today's game titles with decent settings. Of course, GPUs require massive memory bandwidth so AMD will be hard at work solving that problem.