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Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday shipped triple-core desktop processors that the company hopes will slip into a price-performance slot between dual-core and quad-core processors available from rival Intel.
While not as powerful as quad-core processors, the AMD Phenom X3 8000 series is expected to provide a significant improvement over dual-core chips in gaming and playback of high-definition content in mainstream PCs. As a result, the chips may be good enough for enthusiasts who don't want to pay more for a quad-core product.
AMD is initially shipping the X3 8400 and X3 8600 processors to computer makers, AMD spokesman Jake Whitman said. The chips will be available to individuals through retailers in late April. Pricing will be around $150 for the 2.1-GHz 8400 and about $175 for the 2.3-GHz 8600. AMD's lowest priced quad-core Phenom processors, the 2.2-GHz 9500 and 9550, sell for $209. Intel's 2.4-GHz Core 2 Q6600 quad-core sells for about $250 retail.
"(The X3) fits really nicely between dual- and quad-core," Whitman said.
AMD has paired the X3 8400 and X3 8600 processors with its 780G series chipset. Together, the platform provides smooth HD viewing of movies in Blu-ray format, AMD said. Supported video-related standards include H.264 for video compression, MPEG-2 for the generic coding of moving pictures and associated audio information, and VC-1, a video codec standard initially developed by Microsoft.
In addition, the platform supports DirectX 10, the latest 3-D graphics technology from Microsoft. DirectX 10 is exclusive to Windows Vista. Gamers looking to increase the performance of AMD's triple-core platform can add a discrete graphic card from AMD's ATI division.
The first system featuring a Phenom X3 processor will be an Affinity desktop from ZT Systems. The computer will feature an 8400 processor and will premiere March 31 on QVC during the Computer Shop TV broadcast, AMD said.
Along with shipping its triple-core products, AMD launched four high-end Phenom X4 quad-core processors, led by the 2.5-GHz 9850 Black Edition, which will sell for $235. The others include the 2.4-GHz 9750, $215; the 2.3-GHz 9650, $215, and the 2.2-GHz 9550, $209. With the exception of the 9550, prices take effect April 7.
If matched with AMD's 790 series chipsets, the processors support up to four ATI Radeon HD 3800 series graphics cards.
Finally, AMD on Thursday shipped to computer makers an energy efficient desktop quad-core processor, the Phenom X4 9100e. While the four quad-core chips listed above consume from 95 watts to 125 watts, the 9100e uses 65 watts of power. The latter processor is paired with an AMD 780 series chipset for playing Blu-ray movies and delivering graphics sufficient for casual gamers and multimedia enthusiasts, AMD said.