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Dell Set to Introduce AMD's Triple-core Phenom CPU

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the lots-of-balls-in-the-air dept.

AMD 286

An anonymous reader writes "AMD is set to launch what is considered its most important product against Intel's Core 2 Duo processors next week. TG Daily reports that the triple-core Phenoms — quad-core CPUs with one disabled core — will be launching on February 19. Oddly enough, the first company expected to announce systems with triple-core Phenoms will be Dell. Yes, that is the same company that was rumored to be dropping AMD just a few weeks ago. Now we are waiting for the hardware review sites to tell us whether three cores are actually better than two in real world applications and not just in marketing."

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You know what would be even better? (3, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450618)

Enable that other core!

Re:You know what would be even better? (2, Interesting)

TI-8477 (1105165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450626)

I don't understand why they disabled it in the first place. Anyone care to explain?

Re:You know what would be even better? (5, Informative)

Azh Nazg (826118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450646)

It allows them to sell chips with one of the cores broken, thereby getting higher yields from their production lines.

Re:You know what would be even better? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22450712)

Mods, think a bit before you mod... this may be "redundant," but it was posted at 0:30, and the post it repeated was posted at 0:29! Did it ever occur to you to think before going on your little power trip? Idiots.

Re:You know what would be even better? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451824)

Did it ever occur to you that sometimes the Redundant mod is used not when something has already been said today but when something has already been said under similar topics in the recallable past, over and over?

Re:You know what would be even better? (4, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450818)

Ah, yes. This makes great sense, but the announcement should have read "one of the cores defective", which would be more correct. The word disabled suggests purposeful disabling, which is misleading--but perhaps the announcement was a victim of marketing language chicanery.

Re:You know what would be even better? (5, Informative)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450912)

If the demand for triple core processors is higher than the supply of quad core processors with one defective core, then AMD could disable a working core on the quad core chips to ensure supply.

Happens all the time in graphics cards. The main difference between different model numbers in the same line is the number of pipelines on the GPU. Top end cards have them all enabled, lower models progressively less. Often the lower end cards will have working pipelines disabled.

Re:You know what would be even better? (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451546)

Had that sort of thing with the Intel Celeron 300 A (with a stargate sort of A symbol). There was not enough supply so they were rebadging sweet 450MHz symmetric multiprocessor capable Pentium II processors as the cheaper Celeron - just the thing for a two CPU socket board. It made it possible to have a fast two CPU system for about the same price as a fast single CPU system with Pentium II on the label.

The distinguishing feature is often the number of tests done to certify the hardware and in some cases it is not a failure in a certain test but that the test required for the higher spec was not done at all. The rumor with the Celeron mentioned above was that they were rebadged after passing all the tests required for the Pentium II 450 spec but there were a lot of them in storage and more Celeron 300's were required - so they got the "A and circle" symbol to distinguish them from the other Celeron 300's.

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451958)

Which begs the question: are there ways of enabling the extra cores in such devices?

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

adamqaisar (1082367) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452048)

I wouldn't be shocked if there was, knowing AMD it'll be something simple to do - remember how to unlock the multiplier on the old Bartons? Just join the dots!

An alternate viewpoint (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22450952)

I don't quite see it that way.


You said:

Ah, yes. This makes great sense, but the announcement should have read "one of the cores defective", which would be more correct. The word disabled suggests purposeful disabling, which is misleading--but perhaps the announcement was a victim of marketing language chicanery.

What you meant to say:

Ah, yes. This makes great sense, but the announcement should have read "I love dicks in my ass", which would be 100% correct. The word anal suggests purposeful faggotry, which is misleading--but perhaps the announcement was a victim of my lust for nigger dicks.

Please do reply and tell me whether I have missed the mark, but I think you'll find that your love for nigger dick is very obvious.

Re:You know what would be even better? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22450956)

Ah, yes. This makes great sense, but the announcement should have read "one of the cores defective", which would be more correct. The word disabled suggests purposeful disabling, which is misleading--but perhaps the announcement was a victim of marketing language chicanery.
So... They disable the defective one. How is this misleading? Other companies do it too -- HDD makers sell bigger HDDs as smaller ones when they fail QA testing, for example.

Seriously, if the price difference is enough to make buying one of these "tricores" worth it, and more importantly, if these Dells allow me to throw in a "real" Phenom aftermarket (or even ship with the option to buy a true quad-core Phenom...) well, more power to them.

Not only that, AMD seriously wins in this -- they sell these (likely Dell Precision Workstations and/or Dell XPSes) with their "tri" core CPUs, as well as -- I would wager -- their Quad Core CPUs as an upgrade, and they'll start to finally make some inroads with them. So far the impression I've gotten is that both Intel and AMD's quad core offerings have been kinda DOA with consumers (as opposed to the enterprise). But then again, I typically work with office workstations (Optiplex, PWS, etc).

Ob-Full Disclosure: I work for Dell as a Prosupport Tech Support Agent.

Look at the word you highlighted (1)

Mage Powers (607708) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451012)

defective

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451170)

I think most CPUs have some sort of "defects" of some kind, and the ones sold are the ones that pass qc. By your definition, most of these CPUs are "defective" which has almost similar meaning as "broken". As long as AMD sells what they market, you can't say its defective.

Re:You know what would be even better? (2, Informative)

frostband (970712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451182)

IANAICFE (IC Fab. Expert) but I do know that in testing for functionality, they just test a small sampling from a batch to determine whether the whole batch is good or not. It's possible that they found that one batch had a bad core by their small sample which means that other chips in that batch of quadcores (that are now selling as 3 cores) possibly had 4 functioning cores. Anyway, to the semantics, one core is definitely disabled but not necessarily defective (yes, I know you said "more correct" suggesting that 'defective' isn't 100% accurate either, but I've already written this much...). On the plus side, I like seeing the word "chicanery".

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

CodyRazor (1108681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451282)

Well considering they make them with 4 cores the vast majority are probably fully functional, and it is disabled. Perhaps they have a system like the ps3 where if one of the cores dies post production it enables the spare core to further reduce warranty claims.

What's "defective" about them? (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451286)

You're sold a three core chip, it has three working cores.

Which part of that is "defective", misleading, or unfit for purpose?

How many dual core chips are really four core chips with two failed cores? Do you know? Face it, it's just the number three which bugs you, and that's pretty childish...

Re:You know what would be even better? (3, Interesting)

Swoopy (101558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451822)

This used to happen even in the 486 days already.
486es with a working co-processor (Floating Point Unit) were sold as "DX" models, the ones where it was broken were sold as "SX".
Even better, it allowed a market for FPU co-pro upgrades where one would install a co-processor upgrade alongside their 486SX later on.
Once production yields improved, this practice was continued for a while maintaining a market for both "SX" and "DX" models, where the "SX" models would have their FPU deliberately disabled. What on earth moved AMD and Intel not to simply start selling the "DX" processors at a pricepoint closer to the "SX" ones, I don't know.

The DRAM market has been much the same for even longer. The ZX Spectrum (Timex in U.S.) 48K model had in fact 80K of possible RAM on board. The first 8K were a sort of memory swapping / paging bank, and the remaining 40K actually consisted of DRAM chips where only half of the chip worked, which were cheaper than even the half-size but fully working ones. Replace those DRAM chips with fully working full-size ones and you'd have a whopping 80k in your computer.
(This post outs me as a dinosaur fossil, doesn't it? :-( )

Re:You know what would be even better? (2, Interesting)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451922)

What about the original Athlons and Durons? The only difference between them was often a cut link on the top surface of the CPU that disabled moste of the cache. Have a Google and you'll find lots of instructions on how to remake the link and turn a Duron into a fully functional Athlon.

It's all about economics and "perceived value", not technology.

Graphics cards too... (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452120)

I've hacked a couple of graphics cards by moving a resistor on the top of the chip. One was a GeForce and it came up afterwards as a "Quadro". The other was an ATI 9500 which came up afterwards as a 9700 (more shaders). Both cards worked perfectly for years.

Un No. Well, Not even close... (1)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452218)

The new Phenom Tri-Core, is NOT a quad core with a core disabled/broken.
If it was, then it would have the cache of a quad-core wouldnt it?
It would also have most of the power consumption of a quad-core woulnt it?

Its a dual-core with an extra core, hense it has the cache of a dual-core,
not a quad-core.

If you took all your backround processes, and ran them on CPU-2( The third Core)
you could run multi-threaded stuff, on two cores, with no OS slow down.

btw, NT magizine has benchmarked stuff with 3CPUs and 6CPUs.

Its designed to be a Dual-core killer... DUH!

Re:You know what would be even better? (1, Interesting)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450656)

In multicore systems each core can only talk to two other cores.
With a quad core system, each core cant directly talk to the core diagonal to it which slows things down.

Three core systems can talk among the cores easily without any bottlenecks so they are faster than dual core and quad core.

Re:You know what would be even better? (1, Interesting)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450790)

I don't think so. Not in the case of triple-core processors that are just quad cores with one core disabled. In this triple-core configuration, one of the cores is connected to the other two, but there is no direct connection between those two that doesn't involve the third core. Visualize it as cores 1, 2, 3, and 4, cores 1 and 2 at the top, cores 3 and 4 at the bottom, 1 is connected to 2 and 3, 4 is connected to 2 and 3 but 1 is not directly connected to 4. Core 4 is the unlucky one, and there is no direct connection between core 2 and core 3, so if core 2 wants to talk to core 3 it has to go through core 1.

A native triple-core would have equal spacing between the three cores such that any core could talk to any other core without having to go through a middleman.

Re:You know what would be even better? (2, Interesting)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451096)

I thought that this was a "native" quad-core CPU? I know that Intel does the dual-dual-core thing, but it was my understanding that the reason AMD is touting their quad (and this triple) core as being better than Intel because of this fact.

Then again, I haven't been following CPU product lines in the past few months, so I could be mistaken.

In the end, this CPU will enable AMD to yield more CPU's and actually turn profit, but it won't be on market too long once AMD perfects the process and yields working quad-core chips most of the time.

Re:You know what would be even better? (5, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450842)

In multicore systems each core can only talk to two other cores.
With a quad core system, each core cant directly talk to the core diagonal to it which slows things down.
That's not correct. In the Phenom, all four cores are connected to the crossbar and can communicate equally.

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451492)

Are the connections between cores laid after testing? If they are laid beforehand, then you're back to the original question: why are they laying a fourth core that isn't going to be used (it's not being connected to the other three)? Does connecting after the fact have consequences (such as a second round of decreased yield, albeit more than offset by allowing one core to malfunction and making it the disabled one)?

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

Kyojin (672334) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451684)

It is possible, even with a two-dimensional arrangement, to set up 4 cores with a single hop between them.

Arrange 3 cores in a triangle. Place the fourth core inside the triangle. Join this core to the other three cores. This has two issues: 1.) The paths are different lengths. 2.) A 3-dimensional link is required for the centre core to talk to anything other than the other 3 cores.

With a three dimensional arrangement, it is possible to have a single hop between any number of cores.

Re:You know what would be even better? (4, Informative)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450680)

Chip yields. A significant number of the 4 ways have a defect rendering one core useless. For the same reason, the Cell is speced with 8 SPEs, but the PS3 ships with 7.

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

justkeeper (1139245) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452136)

I don't understand why they disabled it in the first place. Anyone care to explain?
Power consumption.

Re:You know what would be even better? (-1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450728)

you're not alone. I read that and was like wait, WHAT?! That's bringing stupid to brave new levels. But when you think about it, there's a lot of times when a triple core will be "faster" than a quad core. Most programs are set up to run any important, repetetive code on a single core. Like windows movie maker. It has multiple threads but the video encoding one can only run on one core. Then there's the dual core friendly ones. If possible, they'll use both cores. If you're lucky it will also expand to 4 if you have a quad. But very few programs can handle 3 cores. That's because for programmers, tasks and data and everything really just doesn't divide very well by uneven numbers like 3. So most programs will use 2 of the 3 cores. So now instead of your system being just about locked up because all the cores are maxed, you have one more core to do normal windows stuff like refreshing the form and letting you do something else. If it was quad though, all 4 would be maxed and you couldn't do anything. Yes I know, with quads the task running would get done faster but does anyone really get up and make a sandwich and just let it run? I open my TV Tuner Card viewing program or check my e-mail lol.

Re:You know what would be even better? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22450772)

lol.
Please get fatally hit by a crashing roflcopter so we don't have to listen to this kind of shit.

Re:You know what would be even better? (5, Funny)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450888)

But when you think about it, there's a lot of times when a triple core will be "faster" than a quad core.

Like modeling the behavior of triple-core computers, for instance...

Re:You know what would be even better? (5, Informative)

thefear (1011449) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451120)

But very few programs can handle 3 cores. That's because for programmers, tasks and data and everything really just doesn't divide very well by uneven numbers like 3. So most programs will use 2 of the 3 cores.
I have a feeling that you don't understand how cpu scheduling works.

Re:You know what would be even better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451246)

As Wolfgang Pauli liked to say:
That's not right! That's not even wrong!

Re:You know what would be even better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451718)

It is all patented by Konami and used in their game called Gradius.

"Destroy the core."

Re:You know what would be even better? (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451816)

Or: We could activate the other core only partially, let's say it runs on 14,159% capacity. This way, we'd have a -Core!

Yield, effectiveness (5, Informative)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450642)

Making 3-core machines out of 4-core CPUs will do wonders for their yield. So many chips get trashed because of single tiny failures, this will allow them to keep any chip with any number of failures as long as they are limited to just one of the cores. The same sort of benefit Intel saw by using Pentiums with bad cache segments to make Celerons, or nVidia saw when disabling (supposedly) bad pipelines to turn 16-pipe GPUs into cheaper 12-pipe versions.

I am sure some units will make it through the process with a functional-enough fourth core to be useful to "overclockers", but I think the majority will have actual problems. That is, unless there is no 4-working-core version of this processor for the known-working ones to be sold as?

One concern... How do they keep thermal load even if 1/4 of the die is not running?

Re:Yield, effectiveness (3, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450684)

> One concern... How do they keep thermal load even if 1/4 of the die is not running?

If running Windows, the OS will cycle through the cores so 3 are always running, and one is cooling. This will usually not cause a problem before the system crashes due to something else.

For other OSes, I would think that the conductive layers over the non-functional core would still be working, and capable of distributing the heat evenly. Same problem as when 1 core is running full tilt and (1, 2, 3 for dual, triple, and quad core) are idling.

Re:Yield, effectiveness (4, Informative)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450702)

OK, perhaps I am mis-educated regarding this particular device, but I expect that one of the four cores will be defective on almost every Phenom CPU. That means cycling through them would not be an option.

Re:Yield, effectiveness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22450868)

I believe you are right. There is no option to cycle through the other core or whatever. It is disabled, and you would not want your code to do anything on it.

I am guessing it just works. Like newer Intel chips that power off a core to save power, probably Core 2 Solo chips that are really Duo's with one half disabled, IBM Cell chips with one SPU disabled, and so on, the thermal load gets absorbed by the chip package quite readily and heat moves to the disabled core(s) without ill effect.

Of course, I am not a EE or ME. I just can think rationally.

Re:Yield, effectiveness (4, Interesting)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450872)

Why?

If one is disabled, it would cycle 1,2,4,1,2,4 (assuming #3 is the bad one).

Moreover, if one of the cores isn't running, and you have a cooling system designed for four cores, it really doesn't matter. If it can handle four full-tilt cores, it can handle three. The zero heat production is a bigger benefit than a slightly uneven distribution. If it's truly a suitable medium, the heat generated will be spread throughout pretty well, even if the heat-production is only on one edge of the medium. Think of an electric stove burner--it only has heat applied at one end, but the opposite end heats up pretty well. Obviously it's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be.

Re:Yield, effectiveness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451608)

The GGP was suggesting it would cycle through all 4 cores, 3 at a time. Which is totally wrong. You can only cycle through the 3 good cores. The 4th being unavailable.

The GP stated that was not possible for obvious reasons. And you replied with a "no! you're right."

Re:Yield, effectiveness (2, Funny)

Ibiwan (763664) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450898)

Maybe you missed where he specified this was only feasible in Windows... Who's gonna notice something trivial like a non-functioning CPU core a fourth of the time!?

Re:Yield, effectiveness (2, Interesting)

Iguanadon (1173453) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451042)

If running Windows, the OS will cycle through the cores so 3 are always running, and one is cooling. This will usually not cause a problem before the system crashes due to something else.

I haven't really looked at Phenom's design, but I highly doubt that it'll rotate between the cores while running. You can't really transfer the contents of registers and whats in the pipeline between cores in any sort of efficient manner (unless there is something about the Phenom I don't know about).

Why would the thermal design even matter that much? It'll be equivalent to having hotspots on the motherboard (though nowhere near as dramatic, the die is tiny and very conductive to heat). By simply having a heatsink on it that can handle four loads, it'll easily be able to handle 3 active (and 1 idling) core.

Re:Yield, effectiveness (1)

rcs1000 (462363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452068)

Whoosh!

(It was a great comment tho')

Re:Yield, effectiveness (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450810)

One concern... How do they keep thermal load even if 1/4 of the die is not running?
I was wondering the same thing and I imagine that they don't. I never heard anyone say it was a problem in dual core systems when Windows pegs 1 core and lets the other sit idle.

Ultimately, that's what the heat spreader is for. Right?

I don't imagine they'll allow it (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451200)

It is getting more common for companies to physically disable the section on a chip that isn't supposed to be used. I'm not sure how it is done but I imagine just burning the traces with a laser would work. I'm going to guess AMD will be doing this with their 3 core systems. It servers 2 purposes:

1) Reduces complaints. You'd get people who would enable a defective core and then bitch that their system didn't work, especially since it could be somewhat random when failures happened.

2) Allow them to have a cheaper part. Yields may improve to the point that there are few defective cores, however there may still be demand for the cheaper part. Thus disabling 1 core allows them to continue selling both.

Re:I don't imagine they'll allow it (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451662)

I believe they're designed with the idea of disabling a core afterwards, using fusable tracks. Apply a high voltage to the right pins and part of the chip breaks.

Re:Yield, effectiveness (1)

mkranz (962295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451348)

Or for instance, using 7 of the 8 cores on the PS3 cell CPU?

Building a Cell with 8 "working" cores was going to make the playstation unbearably expensive to produce, so they decided to also use CPU's with one dud core. Of course, some PS3's do have the full quota of 8 cores, but the 'spare' is disabled before it exits the factory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_3#Hardware [wikipedia.org]

Licensing? (5, Funny)

kermit1221 (75994) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450650)

So, does one have to purchase 1.5 Vista licenses?

Re:Licensing? (1)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450704)

Ha ha, funny, but why would it matter? This is a single socket we're talking about, so unless Microsoft has changed their licensing to per-core as opposed to per-socket (and AFAIK, they haven't [microsoft.com] ), this is a non-issue.

No (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450760)

Microsoft has declared for all their products that a processor is defined as a physical processor in one socket. No matter how many cores it has, it is a single CPU for licensing purposes. Also you don't have to buy more licenses to run more processors, you have to buy different versions. Last I checked it was 2 processors for workstation versions, 4 for server, 8 for advanced server and 32 for datacentre. Not sure if that's changed.

At work we have purchased a dual processor system with a quad core CPU in each that runs Vista. All 8 cores show up and are usable by software.

Re:No (2, Funny)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451494)

Wow, how generous of them.

Re:No (1)

Spit (23158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451528)

How quaint!

Re:No (1, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451594)

If you can't do a bare metal reinstall without reading a 42 digit number over the phone to somebody in India their licencing confusion is barely relevant in a serious computing environment. Limits of 2GB and 2 processors show that the world passed them by long ago, let alone birrare connection limits defined by licences instead of the capabilities of the hardware that should render them irrelevant for fileservers once you get a company big enough to have more than five computers.

You have an 8 processor machine running Vista? I know quad core chips are cheap but if you are going to run MS stuff why use the hobby software instead of at least the small business software? You would have a better file server for the MS Windows environment by even putting a knoppix CDROM in and turning on samba - the slow read speed of any applications from the CD would still vastly outperform Vista and access to hard drives would be much faster.

Re:No (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451680)

There is no 2GB limit on Vista. If you are referring to the 2GB per process limit in 32-bit Windows, that is a function of how they do 32-bit memory allocation, and they aren't alone in that. Windows splits the virtual address space in half, 2GB for user 2GB for kernel. In 64-bit Windows the limit on 32-bit processes is 4GB, and there is no effective limit on 64-bit processes since the virtual space is larger than the physical memory you can get (it again splits the address space in half, however that gives 8EB for user and 8EB for kernel).

A 2 processor limit is not a significant problem as it is rather rare to find workstations that use more than 2 physical processors. Price does not scale linearly with number of processors. If you can get a single processor system for $1000, a similar dual processor system is not likely to be $2000, it is likely to be more. Quad processor systems yet again go up in price.

Vista is not hobby software, it is MS's current gen desktop OS. Regardless of what you may have heard, it is the Windows XP replacement and it functions as such. The reason the system in question runs Windows is because it is running Windows software. I believe it uses Visual Studio and the Intel Fortran addon, but I'm not sure (one of the research groups use it).

We wouldn't bother to put so much CPU in a file server, it wouldn't be useful. As a practical matter, we use a NetApp FAS unit as our central file server. It's performance and features are great.

Re:Licensing? (0)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450766)

One doesn't. Mickysoft has stated they will sell licenses based on the number of CPU's your system has. Not the number of cores your CPU has. So if your system has one physical CPU but that CPU has 2, 3, or 4 cores mickysoft only counts it as one CPU.

I've been away from IT for very long (1, Offtopic)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450654)

Since I started studying microsystems eng., I disconnected from a lot that's been going on in the IT world. So I admit, I had no idea Dell was making AMD-based PCs. When did this start?

Re:I've been away from IT for very long (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450686)

it was either late '04 or early '05.

Re:I've been away from IT for very long (4, Informative)

solafide (845228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450786)

When Dell bought Alienware (who used AMD CPUs) Dell began using AMD.

Re:I've been away from IT for very long (1)

neonmonk (467567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450754)

I wonder how it affects their relationship with Intel? Ubuntu, AMD... Intel, Microsoft.

Wonder what Dell's long term game plan?

Re:I've been away from IT for very long (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451064)

1. Buy individual parts wholesale.
2. Configure parts in a myriad of configurations.
3. Market configurations to an assortment of consumers.
4. ???
5. Profit.

Thats there game plan... you seem to be in a weird conspiracy sort of thought mode, that because they are now offering AMD's that it means 2 years from now that they are going to switch to only Linux based Systems?...

Furthermore, I dont think there is any proof that Linux runs better on an AMD, or that Windows runs better on Intel, or vice versa... as far as I am aware, the only major difference is that AMD is more geared towards brute force, "Get It Done Now, Damn Everything Else" sort of processors, and Intel is more Multi-Tasked... if any Operating System runs better on one processor better than another, thats a FAULT of the OS, not a benifit... at least with regard to AMD and Intel, not including lesser-known or specialty processors...

But thats just from my own experience really, not a scientific analysis of AMD and Intel processors...

Re:I've been away from IT for very long (1)

neonmonk (467567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451312)

Not really what I was saying. From past history it's not a far stretch to think that Microsoft and Intel are quite against alternatives.

Re:I've been away from IT for very long (1, Redundant)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450976)

How the hell did this get modded off topic?

Shick (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22450774)

Works for razors - 2 is better than 1, so 3 has got to be better than 2. I'm not switching from Intel until someone comes out with 5 - count 'em, 5! - micro sharp cores...

Re:Shick (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452000)

Works for razors - 2 is better than 1, so 3 has got to be better than 2. I'm not switching from Intel until someone comes out with 5 - count 'em, 5! - micro sharp cores...
Is this proof of shaving by induction?
 

There's no need to wait for any reviews (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450798)

3 cores will be better if you have a use for them. It's that simple. That answer will hold true for any arbitrary number of cores. Basically you need to have a number of threads equal to or greater than your number of cores that each need a lot of CPU time. This could all be from one program that's heavily multi-threaded and CPU intensive, or it could be from multiple applications running at the same time.

For most things, no 3 cores isn't really going to be much benefit at this point. While there are now multithreaded games out there that make use of 2 cores pretty well, they don't really scale past that at this point. I imagine that'll change as time goes on since quad core processors are getting more common, but it hasn't yet. As for desktop apps, well they don't tend to use much power so it won't help much. I suppose it might help responsiveness in some cases a tiny bit, but I doubt it.

However for some professional apps it can help. Cakewalk's Sonar makes use of multiple processors quite handily. Every effect plugin, every instrument, all run as a separate thread so it can easily use a large number of cores. I've seen it run on a quad core system and it distributes load quite well across them. I don't imagine anything would be different with 3 cores, it'd just have one less to use.

Re:There's no need to wait for any reviews (2, Insightful)

idiotwithastick (1036612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450862)

For most things, no 3 cores isn't really going to be much benefit at this point. While there are now multithreaded games out there that make use of 2 cores pretty well, they don't really scale past that at this point.
But now you can play games and encode a dvd at the same time. It's still useful. And at some point or another there will be games that support use of multiple processors, just like there are games now that support physics processors (though few) even though most people don't have one.

There's no need to wait for any space. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451004)

Pretty much my thinking. If you're going to invest in a new computer? Why invest in last years tech? Anyway I'll be going with an Intel for the simple reason that an Intel quad takes up less boardspace than the comparable two "dual-core" AMD. The same thinking with the latest ATI dual-GPU board.

Re:There's no need to wait for any reviews (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450908)

Unfortunately, that's why I think this processor won't be very useful. If you have poorly threaded applications, then the "one core does the critical task, other core runs the rest" is fine and the third core is almost idle. And if it scales well, then you'll probably benefit from 4+ cores. I guess it all comes down to price but I wouldn't be buying AMD stock, to put it that way.

I agree (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451162)

I think it is mostly marketing. AMD is likely having poor yields on their quad core processors since it is actually 4 chips on one die and not 2 separate 2 core dies as Intel is doing. So they probably figured for chips where 1 core fails, they'll just disable and market it as 3 cores. Ok that's fine, but as you noted, it is a solution looking for a problem. Every app I have falls in to one of the following categories:

1) Only uses a single core.
2) Uses 2 cores, but no more (games mostly).
3) Can scale to an arbitrary amount of cores and make efficient use of all of them (sound apps and such).

As such if I were to step up form my dual core processor, a quad core would be of more interest.

Now we'll have to see what pricing is like. I suppose if it is cheap enough it could be useful. For example if you are a gamer that'd give you 2 cores for a game and still have 1 left over for background processes. Ok so not really that useful, but still if the price is right I could see it.

Maybe games will scale up and start using more cores and gain an incremental benefit from 3, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope. Dual cores still aren't used by a lot of games, and it isn't as though it is easy to arbitrarily increase the threads in a game engine. I'm sure with time they'll be made quite parallel, but for now I'm thinking it'll be slow progress, and primarily match the widespread processor. That is dual core for now, and is likely to jump to quad core since Intel seems to have little interest in a 3 core solution.

The advantage of dual-core... (4, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450988)

Ironically, the main advantage of dual-core has nothing to do with applications taking advantage of that second core -- in fact, just the opposite.

Dual-core means that for most cases, I can run a video encode, a backup/compression process, a long-ish compilation (of the sort that doesn't like 'make -j2'), etc -- not so much all at once, as I can fire off any background process and not worry about it, as I have a whole other core to use. It's shameful -- Amarok will occasionally use 100% of one core, and I won't notice for hours.

Having more than two cores wouldn't benefit me a lot right now. I wouldn't mind it, certainly -- I've been playing a bit with things like Erlang, which should be able to scale arbitrarily -- but I think the real applications are only just catching on to the idea that threading is a good thing. I imagine it's still going to be a lot longer till a quad-core machine is useful for anything other than, say, running virtual machines, as most programming languages do not make threading easy. (Locks and semaphores are almost as bad as manual memory management.)

While I'm playing crystal ball, I'll predict that the first application of multicore will be things which were already running on multiple machines in the first place -- video rendering, for instance. Not encoding, rendering.

The second application for it will be gaming. This will take longer, and will only be the larger, higher-quality engines, who will simply throw manpower at the problem of squeezing the most out of whatever hardware is available.

I suspect that the old pattern will be very much in effect, though -- wherein gamers will buy a three-core system and unlock the fourth one (if possible), then use maybe one core, probably half of one, with the video card still being the most important purchase. If there's a perceptible improvement, it'll be because their spyware, IM, torrents, leftover Firefox with 20 MySpace pages and flash ads, etc, won't be able to quite fill the other three cores.

I'd like to add that for most people, including me, one core is plenty if you know how to manage your processes properly -- set priorities, kill Amarok when it gets stuck in that infinite loop, and get off my lawn!

Re:The advantage of dual-core... (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451100)

Dual-core means that for most cases, I can run a video encode, a backup/compression process, a long-ish compilation (of the sort that doesn't like 'make -j2') ...

A broken Makefile, that is. I have them too.

... etc -- not so much all at once, as I can fire off any background process and not worry about it, as I have a whole other core to use. It's shameful -- Amarok will occasionally use 100% of one core, and I won't notice for hours.

I bet you would be mostly fine with one core, too. Nothing really bad happens to overall responsiveness on my system when I have something running at 100%. (That's with Linux; I have a feeling Windows is worse).

The only real usefulness of SMP/multi-core I have seen with my own eyes is on multi-user servers. You can support a lot of simultaneous users with a few cores, because they are usually not likely to all run batch compile jobs at once.

Re:The advantage of dual-core... (4, Informative)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451150)

Having more than two cores wouldn't benefit me a lot right now. I wouldn't mind it, certainly -- I've been playing a bit with things like Erlang, which should be able to scale arbitrarily -- but I think the real applications are only just catching on to the idea that threading is a good thing. I imagine it's still going to be a lot longer till a quad-core machine is useful for anything other than, say, running virtual machines, as most programming languages do not make threading easy. (Locks and semaphores are almost as bad as manual memory management.)

In general I'd agree with you, but I've found that a quad-core (which is actually pretty cheap these days) is much better than a dual-core if you watch HD video. h264 at 1080p is pretty taxing on the processor, and on a C2D you generally can't have anything in the background or you'll drop frames. A quad-core means you can run one or two other processor-intensive tasks (usually as you said, video encoding/backup/compilation type stuff) and don't have to pause them when you want to watch video. Also, it's very helpful if you use Mathematica a lot for large computations.

Re:The advantage of dual-core... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451346)

I have to disagree here. I watch 1080p H.264 video a lot (I even encode some using x264). Using an old version of coreavc (cpu doing all the work, no directx acceleration of any kind) i get ~20% CPU usage on my C2D. If I use a codec that can make use of my geforce 8500gt's video acceleration, it drops below 5%. I never, ever drop a single frame. It must be your video card driver's or the codec you use that's being problematic.

Dual cores are easy to keep busy. Do anything somewhat demanding, and use the other for other everyday tasks. If you do any kind of encoding, that'll utilize both just fine too.

However most quad cores (like the Q6600) have four somewhat slower cores. That will often be significantly slower for apps that can't make use of more than 1 core. And it's a lot harder to keep all 4 cores busy.

Anyways, I really don't know why Dell would bother with this. The Intel e8400 is faster than AMD's unreleased phenom 9700 (which has more cores, and likely clocked higher), and costs like 50$ less than the even slower phenom 9600! AMD just doesn't make anything I want to buy right now. I'm hoping to upgrade to a Intel Q9450 as soon as the price drops a bit (Quad core, 45nm, 12MB cache, runs cooler/uses less power than the Q6600, OC's a LOT better, has SSE4, 1333MHz FSB, etc). And so far phenom had significant problems (requiring BIOS patches making it 10% slower, most existing AM2 motherboards not supporting it, etc) and it doesn't seem to overclock quite as well as Intel's latest either. I don't think the 3 core idea will be popular either. You're essentially buying a partly defective chip, and most people don't like buying partly broken things (would you buy a car with a 4 cylinder engine, if only 3 of them worked?) The price would have to be quite low for me to even consider buying one.

AMD desperately NEEDS to come up with something better REAL soon.

Re:The advantage of dual-core... (1)

Tweaker_Phreaker (310297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22452054)

Agreed, any decent h.264 decoder can run on a ~2 Ghz single core cpu and the great decoders can probably run on ~1Ghz. A lot of video codecs are written poorly (like every single one in quicktime) and don't care because it helps keep hardware sales up.

Core AVC is wicked fast, I just downloaded the Iron Man trailer from quicktime.com and here's some rough figures for the h.264 decoders that I tried on my Athlon X2 running at ~2.5Ghz:
Quicktime - ~80% load
Nero - ~60% load
Core AVC - ~25% load

Erlang concurrency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22452262)

I've been playing a bit with things like Erlang, which should be able to scale arbitrarily

Really? [wikipedia.org] Correct me if I'm wrong, it's been some time since I played with erlang.

Re:There's no need to wait for any reviews (1)

KPexEA (1030982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451036)

Q: If you are running 3 apps at the same time will they each be assigned to their own core?

Re:There's no need to wait for any reviews (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451102)

Q: If you are running 3 apps at the same time will they each be assigned to their own core?
A: maybe. that depends on how good the operating system is about managing multiple processors and multiple threads.

Depends (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451136)

Different OSes have different methods for managing threads. In the case of Windows it shuffles them around as it sees fit. If you have three apps all using 100% of a core then yes, they'll get stuck each on their own core. You can also force it in task manager, where you can tell Windows which cores a given process is allowed to run on.

In general most modern OSes do a pretty good job moving things around. It isn't necessarily an app per core situation since many apps don't use much power and thus can all run on a single core. Also a single multi-threaded app may run on multiple cores at the same time. In general the OS will move things to try and get all threads as much CPU as they want, and to try and have CPU left over for new tasks.

Re:There's no need to wait for any reviews (2, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451562)

I expect these to be popular for virtualization systems as well, where a spare CPU for the spare OS can do wonders for your performance, and a vastly cheaper set of triple cores can easily satisfy the needs of a few very expensive quad-cores, with an option for upgrades as needed.

Multicore cpus and threaded games and applications (2, Informative)

redstar427 (81679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451646)

As I have stated before:

Many of the newest Operating Systems, applications, and games are multi-threaded. Multiple cpu cores just allow modern systems to take advantage of them, when available.

I have a dual quad-core computer, that dual boots Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit, and Fedora 8 Linux, 64-bit. Many programs do take advantage of this system, including modern PC games, such as Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3. UT3 does use all 8 cpu cores during parts of the game.

So, even though multiple cores are not necessary, I find it helps in many ways, and many programs. The system seems to perform very smoothly.

Re:There's no need to wait for any reviews (2, Funny)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451842)

Or to put this another way, my girlfriend can now leave two flash adverts open in firefox on her profile before it totally cripples my machine.

The AMD Triple Track (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22450954)

The AMD Triple Track has three cores - one core to cut into the problem, a second to grab what is left before it can snap back into the cache, and a third core to finish it off. The AMD Triple Track, because you'll believe anything!

[For those too young, the reference is the 1975 SNL parody about the Remco Triple Track Razor - done just after twin-bladed razors first appeared.]

Re:The AMD Triple Track (2, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451482)

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of computing in this country. The Intel Pentium 4 was the CPU to own. Then the other guy came out with a 64 bit CPU. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. That's 3.2GHz and 2 MB of L2 cache. For performance. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened--the bastards went to two cores. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling 3.2GHz and 2MB of L2 cache. Performance or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to eight cores.

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33930 [theonion.com]

[The reference is the 2004 Onion parody about a five bladed razor - presciently done just after the Gillette Mach3Turbo first appeared.]

We're doing five cores (3, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451726)

For reference, see The Onion [theonion.com] reference, "... We're doing five blades [theonion.com] ". (Rough language. If you're at a school maybe NSFW). From February, 2004. For the record, the Gillette Fusion with five blades and two lubricating strips was introduced in early 2006 [cnn.com] .

Hilarious though:

Here's the report from Engineering. Someone put it in the bathroom: I want to wipe my a?? with it. They don't tell me what to invent--I tell them. And I'm telling them to stick two more blades in there. I don't care how. Make the blades so thin they're invisible. Put some on the handle. I don't care if they have to cram the fifth blade in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!

You're taking the "safety" part of "safety razor" too literally, grandma. Cut the strings and soar. Let's hit it. Let's roll. This is our chance to make razor history. Let's dream big. All you have to do is say that five blades can happen, and it will happen. If you aren't on board, then .... you. And if you're on the board, then .... you and your father. Hey, if I'm the only one who'll take risks, I'm sure as hell happy to hog all the glory when the five-blade razor becomes the shaving tool for the U.S. of "this is how we shave now" A.

People said we couldn't go to three. It'll cost a fortune to manufacture, they said. Well, we did it. Now some egghead in a lab is screaming "Five's crazy?" Well, perhaps he'd be more comfortable in the labs at Norelco, working on #### electrics. Rotary blades, my white #!

I'm a big AMD fan but three cores are barely better than two. Buy it anyway - AMD needs to live if the computer market is to be bearable at all in ten years. Via makes some interesting stuff too - and they're not afraid to cut the watts and make them small. You can do some very neat stuff [viaarena.com] with a low watt CPU on a small board.

It doesn't take a great deal of insight to see we're going to 8 cores per processor on the desktop sometime in the next few years. Dual 16 core processors will happen within ten if competition keeps the pressure up. Personally I don't care if every core is on a separate slab of silicon as long as they integrate in the package well. Yields are better that way I imagine. Somebody tell them to get the watts down. Electricity [intelligen...rprise.com] is mostly made from CO2 emissions [doe.gov] :

PCs worldwide consume about 80 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year.

Hmm. (1)

Fishchip (1203964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451078)

How long before Dell starts badgering Nintendo to allow Alienware to badge systems with a TRI-FORCE logo, I wonder.

Re:Hmm. (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451746)

At least they did not try to call it the "Trinity"... But wait, that is taken too... Then again, Play.com is now out of business (Remember the Snappy?)... hmmmm?
(I can't be the *only* nerd (in the late 90's) who thought the "Play.com co-founder and evangelist Kiki Stockhammer" was one HOT redhead! -I wonder whatever happened to her?)

so..... (-1, Troll)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451108)

AMD found a sucker willing to sell quad cores with manufacturing errors that render one core non functional.

basicially "buy our factory seconds they we would normally throw away but instead will sell to you as something we planned on making."

Re:so..... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451362)

Is that a cheap attempt at humor?

Or maybe you don't understand manufacturing.
Not a shyster; no suckers.
(It would be interesting to pit an AMD Triple-core against Intel's Quad-core.)

Computer chips have billions of transistors, capacitors, resistors, and interconnects. All of them have to work to make the chip work.

Even in the says of tubes (valves), the manufacturers tested their product, then set aside the best to sell at a premium.

Intel used this technique on their 486SX processors. When the FPU on a 486DX tested defective, they could disable it and sell it as a 486SX. They probably still use the technique with multi-core processors. It would be stupid and wasteful not to.

Hard drives hold billions, even trillions of bits. All have to work. Drive makers have always mapped out defective sectors. Now they do it transparently. Flash disks too.

MacDonald's advertises "Billions Served." Imagine if they could say, "Billions served without a mistake."
When is the last time you were able to produce millions of items without a defect?

sweet! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451128)

This will go great with my Sunbeam UniToast (tm) .. the world's first single-slice toaster.

How did Sunbeam create such a powerful and versatile kitchen toaster? Easy! They took their top-of-the line dual-slot toaster, and disabled one slot!

software compatability? (3, Interesting)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451252)

I think I remember reading an article on Tomshardwareguide where they tried running one dual core, and a single core CPU in the same system for 3 cores. While they got it to boot the OS, a lot of applications failed to run.

I'm guessing there is a lot of code out there that's looking for power of 2 number of cores. A program might run fine with 1,2,4,8, or 16 cores, but if you do some kind of odd number I wouldn't be surprised if several applications just refused to run. It will be interesting to see what kind of compatibility testing AMD has done with this new processor.

In the end though, this just seems like another last ditch attempt by AMD to marginally compete on the lower end market with Intel. Intel says they have no need for 3 core chips since their yields are so much higher.

Re:software compatability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22451624)

If you read the damn article YOU mentioned, you'd know that the processors weren't only dual and single. They had different versions of SSE and revisions. It's a testament to the platform's versatility by working at all with such differences.

dumbass.

Re:software compatability? (4, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451888)

That may well be true with DOS or Windows ME, but certainly not with any version of Unix.

Re:software compatability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22452270)

Yeah, I echo what the other AC said (although a little more politely). I had enough of a problem getting a dual Opteron board to POST with different steppings of the same 246 (IIRC) CPU, so putting two completely different CPUs in a two socket board somehow seems like it shouldn't work at all. The fact it's even semi-reliable astounds me. As it happens the dual Opteron is bang on 100% reliable (I've Prime95ed it and all sorts trying to induce it to crash) so the POST warnings were purely cosmetic and we got lucky. Sounds like TH were the other way round, the mobo probably should have stopped at the BIOS and asked "Are you SURE you want to do that? It's never going to work..."

I can't find a link to the article at the moment, but I'm certainly going to dig it out and read it.

There is a known problem with current Phenom... (5, Interesting)

ELiTeUI (591102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451378)

There are a couple known problems with the first spin of the Phenom die (codename Agena).

The first (and less relevant) problem is the TLB errata. The second (and more relevant to this discussion), is a problem in which core #2 (out of [0,1,2,3]) is lower yielding than the first three. For example, on the same CPU die, cores [0,1,3] may work fine at 2.6Ghz, but core [2] yields only at 2.0GHz. This is a widespread problem, mostly found out through failed overclocking attempts.

Google it yourself and find out..

God, Dell is NOT dropping AMD (3, Informative)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451698)

I hate it when people tell me this. They have dropped WAY to much effort into the whole 6950 and SC1435 lines. Hell, the new 2970's are out if not already.

My personal opinion is that they still need to be fleshed out though. I am not sure why, but all the AMD systems we have only accept DDR2 unbuffered as well has having issues with very large amounts of ram ( More than 64gigs). I will admit however, they use ALLOT less power and much quieter.

Dell is dropping 25% of AMD (2, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22451828)

With one dead core dropped per processor, that would explain the rumours.
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