AMD unveils Turbo Core processor technology

New details emerge about AMD's upcoming six-core chip, and their Turbo Core technology

AMD has released a bit more information on their upcoming six-core Phenom II X6 processor (codenamed Thuban), revealing their take on automated overclocking, dubbed Turbo Core. We've covered Intel's Turbo Boost feature at length, and AMD's Turbo Core follows many of the same principles.

The general idea behind Turbo Core (and Turbo Boost) is that many applications don't take full advantage of multicore processors, leaving quite a bit of wasted potential as unused cores lie dormant. Turbo Core and Turbo Boost propose to fill in that gap, increasing performance of the cores in use, while maintaining the chip's particular power and heat thresholds. In the upcoming Phenom II X6, the Turbo Core feature will kick in when three or more cores aren't being used, automatically overclocking the cores that aren't idle up to a reported 500MHz.

Better still, CPUs based on the Thuban platform will work with existing socket AM3 and AM2+ motherboards (after a bios update), including motherboards based on the AMD's 890GX Chipset Offers HD For Less - PCWorld we recently reviewed. This backwards compatibility promises to cut down on upgrade costs. Six-core Thuban chips will reportedly be available in the second quarter of this year, with quad-core chips based on the new platform to follow.

While AMD's Opteron processors have made six-core technology available for servers for some time, the Phenom II X6 is aimed strictly at the consumer market, with a less than subtle nod towards enthusiast gamers, and workstations.

Whether or not AMD's new Thuban platform helps them take the performance crown remains to be seen. AMD has yet to address Intel's Hyper Threading feature, which allows a single core to function as a pair of threads -- turning six-cores into twelve available threads for multi-threaded applications to take advantage of.

That said, AMD's offerings have historically been quite competitive on the price. Even if their six-core platform failed to unseat Intel's Core i7-980X processor, offering consumers options below Intel's US$1000 price point might outweigh any performance dips, to power users on a budget.

Have you been looking to upgrade your own PC, but aren't quite ready to pay Intel's premium? Or are the potential performance benefits of Intel's platform more important than cost? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for more news!

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Nate Ralph

PC World (US online)
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