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AMD Unveils Six Core Phenom II Desktop Processor

The 45-nanometer Phenom II X6 enables PC enthusiasts to tune system performance, customize settings, and tune memory.
Advanced Micro Devices has introduced a six-core desktop processor about six weeks after Intel launched a more powerful competitor, but at a much higher price.

The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition, released Tuesday, is a 45-nanometer processor that works with existing AM3 and AM2+ socket motherboards running older AMD products. Swapping chips requires only a bios upgrade, AMD said.

Intel introduced in mid-March the six-core Core i7-980x Extreme Edition processor, built on Intel's 32-nanometer architecture. The chip, aimed at serious gamers, creative professionals and PC enthusiasts, has 12 MB of L3 memory cache and a clock speed of 3.33 GHz.

The Core i7-980x is higher performing product than the Phenom II X6 1090T, but at three times the price, $999 versus $285, the AMD product may be good enough for running most desktop applications used by small and medium-sized businesses.

The trend among chip vendors is to release new processors with more cores, faster clock speeds, and larger internal caches to boost performance over previous generations. However, most software makers haven't kept up with the trend, with the exception of some game makers and vendors such as Adobe, which makes professional graphics tools and video-editing products.

The Phenom II X6 includes AMD OverDrive technology which enables computer enthusiasts to tune system performance, customize settings, and tune memory. AMD says its 890FX chipset is the "premier complement" to the Phenom II X6, featuring the company's ATI CrossFireX graphics technology. The chipset also can support up to four ATI Radeon HD graphics cards.

Key architectural features of the Phenom II X6 include 6 MB of shared L3 cache and 512KB L2 cache per core. The processor includes AMD's HyperTransport technology that delivers up to 8 GB per second of input/output bandwidth.

Other features include an integrated memory controller that delivers up to 21 GB per second of memory bandwidth when working with the DDR3 system memory. Finally, AMD's CoolCore technology reduces energy consumption by turning off unused parts of the processor.