Thursday, September 20, 2007

AMD Salvages Phenom

My first reaction to AMD announcing a three-core processor was that it sounded weird. Why design a three-core CPU? And one of the explanations I heard was even more contrived, something like "you could be running a demanding video application using two cores and have another core running virus scan". Ah yes, the price we pay for security.

But upon a little more reflection, I have to agree with Larry Dignan of ZDNet that AMD’s triple core chip is a nice intersection where engineering meets business savvy.

Of course! It's not a three chip design. It's the four-core Phenom chip with one defective core disabled. AMD gets to salvage a "non-prime" part, and the consumer should get a good deal on a CPU that's better than dual-core.

This is a nice side benefit of highly-parallel designs, as long as they're designed to degrade gracefully.

1 comment:

John said...

That's interesting - I guess it's the natural extension to the concept of 'speed binning', which is an age old practice in the test sector of this industry. So now we have 'functionality binning'. I wish the same could hold true for communications chips: "well one of the transmit channels doesn't work, so would you settle for three channels?"

hee hee