If you've been salivating over the thought of getting your hands on one of AMD's six-core processors
but didn't want to spend the extra associated with the company's server-oriented Opteron label, there's good news: enter Thuban.
The guys over at MaximumPC
have confirmed with AMD that the six-core technology which has gone into its Opteron server processors is due to hit the mainstream early next year with a consumer-grade chip codenamed Thuban. Interestingly, the processor will be fully backwards compatible with existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards - although not ones based around the older AM2 standard.
Thuban processors will feature an on-chip DDR2/DDR3 memory controller, and will be fabricated using AMDs current 45nm technology. While official branding for the product has yet to be confirmed, it's thought that Thuban chips will be sold as Phenom II X6 at retail.
While clock speeds are thought to take a hit compared to quad-core parts in order to keep down the TDP, the Thuban chips will have a decent stack of cache memory with 3MB of level 2 in total and 6MB of level 3 unified cache on-board.
While it's good to see server-side technologies trickling down to the desktop, AMD might have misjudged this release: rival Intel's own Gulftown technology - which is a six-core processor using HyperThreading to present twelve logical processors to the operating system - is also backwards compatible to the company's LGA1366 motherboards and is expected to hit the market first.
Will you be rushing to upgrade to AMD - or Intel's - six-core desktop processors, or are you struggling to make the most of a four-core system? Is the future of computing simple raw power or a greater number of slower processing cores? Share your thoughts over in the forums