Six-Core 'Thuban' Desktop Processors Confirmed for 2010

 Early this month, Advanced Micro Devices, the world’s second largest vendor of computer processors and Intel’s biggest rival, was rumored to be planning the expansion of its Phenom II lineup with the introduction of a new six-core processor that would be based on the chip maker’s ‘Istanbul’ server chip. On that note, the company recently confirmed these plans, saying that said chip, which is currently codenamed ‘Thuban’, would be part of its enthusiast desktop lineup, due out sometime next year.

Thuban is expected to provide enthusiasts with a significant performance boost over the company’s current generation of processors, featuring a quad-core architecture. However, the specific details on said processor are rather scarce, at this time. The chip is expected to provide compatibility with socket AM3/AM2+ platforms, boasting an integrated dual-channel DDR3 1333MHz memory controller. It’s likely that it will be part of AMD’s current Phenom II branding, but will be designed on the company’s current Istanbul chips for servers.

“I can confirm that AMD is planning on introducing a six-core processor for our enthusiast desktop lineup next year. It will be a ‘Stars’ core supporting DDR3,” said Damon Muzny, a spokesman for AMD, according to a recent news-article on xbitlabs.

If the new Thuban processor is based on the Istanbul chips, AMD is likely to provide consumers with new processors that will boast a 45nm SOI fabrication process and integrate 3MB of L2 cache (512KB per core) with 6MB of L3 cache. Processor speed could be lower than the chip maker’s current line of quad-core chips, which is the case in the company’s current lineup of Opteron server processors.

Although there’s no detailed time frame for the arrival of AMD’s first six-core processors, the company is likely to compete with Intel in the new category, especially since the latter is said to be planning the introduction of a new series of six-core CPUs, codenamed Gulftown and part of the company’s Core i9 family. Intel’s new high-end chips are slated for arrival sometime in the second quarter of 2010, providing desktop PC users with new performance levels.

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