When AMD first announced plans to introduce triple-core processors back in September of last year, reaction to the news was mixed. Some felt that AMD was simply planning to pass off partially functional Phenom X4 processors as triple-core products, making lemonade from lemons if you will. Others thought it was a good way for AMD to increase bottom line profits, getting more usable die from a single silicon wafer and mitigating yield loss. We were somewhat perplexed by the first reaction. This is an age-old strategy in the semiconductor space and after all, the graphics guys have been selling GPUs with non-functional units for years. AMD was simply borrowing a play from ATI's playbook.
If you take a step back and think about it though, who really cares outside of the enthusiast niche'? Isn't it the ultimate quality of the end-product what's most important? If tri-core processors end up outperforming competing dual-core chips, and are less expensive than quad-cores, wouldn't salvaging otherwise unusable die from a wafer be a good move on AMD's part?
Without actual product, it's tough to argue either way, of course. But thankfully, AMD has delivered their first batch of triple-core processors and we can finally put the whole debate to rest.
AMD Phenom Retail Box
|Model / Processor Frequency:||AMD Phenom Processor Model X3 8750, 8650, 8450 / 2.4GHz, 2.3GHz, 2.1GHz|
|L1 Cache Sizes:||64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (384KB total L1 per processor)|
|L2 Cache Sizes:||512KB of L2 data cache per core (1.5MB total L2 per processor)|
|L3 Cache Size:||2MB|
|Memory Controller Type:||Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller, capable of being configured for dual 64-bit channels for simultaneous read/writes|
|Memory Controller Frequency:||Up to 1.8GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management|
|Types of Memory:||Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500 (DDR2-1066MHz)|
|HyperTransport 3.0:||One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 3600MHz full duplex|
|Total Processor Bandwidth:||Up to 31.5 GB/s bandwidth|
|Packaging:||Socket AM2+ 940-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA) (backward compatible with Socket AM2)|
|Fab location:||AMD's Fab 36 wafer fabrication facilities in Dresden, Germany|
|Process Technology:||65nm (.065-micron) Silicon on Insulator (SOI)|
|Approximate Transistor count:||approx. 450 million (65nm)|
|Approximate Die Size:||285 mm2 (65nm)|
|Nominal Voltage:||1.05-1.25 Volts|
|Max Ambient Case Temp:||70 degrees Celsius|
|Max TDP:||95 Watts|
|ACP:||*to be announced after launch|
|Future Memory Controller Note:||Future 45nm processors versions are planned to include support for DDR3 memory|
As you probaly expect, the new AMD Phenom X3 8750 looks exactly like any other socket AM2+ processor outfitted with AMD's standard heat spreader. The chip also uses the same packaging and socket as current Phenom processors; it is only the silicon underneath that has changed.
The AMD Phenom X3 8750 is a 2.4GHz processor manufactured using AMD's 65nm Silicon on Insulator process technology. The chip has a Max TDP of 95W and has official support for a 1.8GHz memory controller and HT 3.0 frequency with Dual Dynamic Power Management technology. Although some AMD processors have support for a 2GHz memory controller and HT3.0 link frequency, not every CPU is rated for these high-end frequencies. Also note the "50" in the processor's model number. That "50" means the CPU is based on the recently released B3 revision to the Phenom core which does not suffer from the infamous TLB errata.