The day before Intel (INTC)'s big developers forum, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) tried to grab some headlines on Monday. It announced plans to ship in the first quarter of next year a triple-core processor for the desktop and it tried to sell Wall Street on the performance characteristics of its specialized multi-core designs.
AMD introduced a new Phenom microprocessor, which would be in addition to the quad-core desktop chip that AMD plans to ship this year. The Phenom microprocessors are native multi-core chips, which means the cores are on a single die of silicon.
"With our advanced multi-core architecture, AMD is in a unique position to enable a wider range of premium desktop solutions, providing a smarter choice for customers and end users," Greg White, VP and general manager of AMD's Desktop Division, said in a statement.
Intel offers a Core 2 quad-core processor for the desktop, but not a three-core model. Intel's quad-core architecture comprises two dual-core chips. The cores are not on the same die, which AMD has argued provides less flexibility and lower performance. Intel touts benchmarks that show otherwise.
AMD started shipping its first quad-core processor this month, Codenamed Barcelona, the processor, sold under the Opteron brand, is for powering servers. Intel, on the other hand, has been shipping quad-core chips for about a year. In shipping a three-core model, AMD believes it can offer a product with more computing power than a dual-core chip, but less expensive than quad-core processors, which are in a fraction of total desktop shipments.
AMD's three-core processor contains its Direct Connect Architecture, which had been available only with 64-bit Opteron, Athlon, and Turion chips for servers, desktops, and notebooks, respectively. The DCA is used as an alternative to a front-side bus, which is favored by Intel. In the architecture, the memory controller and I/O are connected directly to the central processing unit, or CPU. AMD claims this results in faster communication speeds, which means a higher performing chip.
In addition, the new three-core product will feature HyperTransport 3.0 technology links, up to 16 Gbps of high bandwidth I/O, and a shared Level 3 cache, which is a third bank of memory on the processor for storing instructions. The processor also takes advantage of AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet technology, which allows a computer to decrease and increase performance heat levels depending on usage demand, as well as regulate fan speeds.