AMD's six-core Phenom II X6 chips appear in online retail stores

Vendors are taking orders for the chips ahead of official launch later this month

Advanced Micro Devices' upcoming six-core Phenom II X6 processors for desktops are already showing up in online retail stores prior to the chips' official launch later this month.

Online retailer Provantage is taking orders for AMD's six-core Phenom II X6 1090T processor, which runs at 3.2GHz and includes 9MB of L3 cache. The chip, listed as a "Phenon" processor, is priced at $318.50. AMD's logo accompanies the page.

[ AMD's Phenom faces stiff competition -- Intel's six-core Westmere has proven to be a barn-burner, according to InfoWorld Test Center | Keep up on the day's tech news headlines with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: Wrap Up newsletter. ]

Another online retailer, Howard Technology Solutions, is offering the same chip for around $350. The retailer is also offering another processor, the six-core Phenom II X6 1055T, which runs at 2.8GHz and includes 6MB of cache, for around $240.

The six-core chips have also been spotted on store shelves. Enthusiast Website ExpReview found the 1055T processor selling for about $214 in a Chinese retail store.

If these prices hold up, the chips will be significantly cheaper than Intel's six-core Core i7-980X processor, which runs at 3.33GHz. The processor, which was launched last month, was priced at $999 as of March 28, according to a price list on Intel's Website. Online retail sites are listing Intel's six-core processor in excess of $1,000.

AMD has already said it would launch the six-core chips later this month, but slides posted on tech Website VR-Zone leaked the chip names, speeds, and launch dates. The slides were later removed, but resurfaced on Softpedia's Website.

The slides list two more six-core processors, the Phenom II X6 1075T and the 1035T, which run at clock speeds of 3.0GHz and 2.6GHz, respectively.

An AMD spokesman declined to comment on the chip launch or availability, saying the company didn't talk about unannounced products.

The desktop chips are targeted at enthusiasts like gamers who buy high-performance PCs, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Insight 64. They could also make their way into competitively priced workstations offering significant computational power.

Rock-bottom pricing could help AMD stimulate demand for the chips, McCarron said. However, between the manufacturing cost and selling price, the margins generated by chip sales may be low. The price may not be that attractive from a manufacturing standpoint, but it is fairly common for chip companies to drive volumes to reduce the chip manufacturing costs and keep the factories occupied, McCarron said.

Usually, gamers are more focused on performance over price, but in this case that might not hold. Even if AMD's six-core chip doesn't perform quite as well as Intel's, the lower price could give gamers a compelling reason to buy a computer with the AMD processor, McCarron said.

AMD has also included new features in the six-core chip to boost performance, including Turbo Core, which ratchets active cores up to 500MHz, depending on the processor model.

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