AMD Phenom II X6 Hexacore – Quad core? How about six.

The next big thing from microprocessor manufacturer AMD (and also Intel) will be the logical progression from quad-core processors to six-core. Undoubtedly these will sell for an arm and a leg. The launch dates for these brand new spanking processors is reported to be around the June-July timeframe, with the Intel solution costing upwards of $US 1,000 a pop. On the AMD side, the Phenom II X6 performance numbers have been revealed and the results were rather disappointing.

Let’s talk a bit about the product first. AMD will be launching 6 different types of their hexacore processors (ironically), ranging from speeds of 2.6 to 3.2 GHz. What’s interesting is that AMD will also be introducing a Turbo-boost equivalent to Intel and they are calling it Turbo Core, which automatically overclocks the processor if it senses that less than 3 of the cores are being used. With six cores, overclockers and computer enthusiasts will have a field day playing around and trying to extract the most performance out of their massive processors.

The cache remains the same at 6MB across the entire product line. Part of the reason why AMD processors have suffered in terms of performance compared to their Intel cousins is the lack of adequate cache, but it seems that this issue will not be tackled, at least not until AMD’s next-gen architecture is revealed.

Happily, these new processors, with 6 cores and blazing fast performance, all fit into the same power and heat envelope as their existing Phenom and Phenom II X4 requirements. No need to shell out extra money for a new motherboard or better cooler, which is always good news. AMD assures that the new processors will be compatible with motherboards all the way back to the AM2+ era, which is an impressive achievement and one of the reasons why AMD is still the brand of choice for budget conscious consumers who want the maximum value for their money.

However early performance numbers for the Phenom II X6 were disappointing, putting them slightly behind Intel’s flagship i7, which only has technically 4 cores (well, 8 if you consider Hyperthreading, but that’s just fake marketing cores that consumers seem to love). Even worse, the core-by-core performance is comparable only to the original Phenom standards, which were already pretty low when THOSE launched. I’m willing to bet its another case of the processors being starved of proper cache memory to perform at their best. Whatever the case, let’s hope AMD manages to find a way to squeeze some extra performance out of their latest processors, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Intel decimates them with their hexacore solution.

Thankfully, for all intents and purposes, the Phenom II X4 will be enough for most home users, offering excellent gaming performance for its price.