As a follow up to the news of new AMD processors covering various price points, our contact over at AMD has provided the following information:

"While there are indeed engineering CPU samples floating around of a 4-core Thuban 960T, I do not expect that processor will be released for general availability. Perhaps it may make its way to OEMs by special request, but that remains to be seen."

This is, to us, interesting news.  A lot of AMD motherboard manufacturers have jumped on the core unlocking bandwagon, so that processors that are manufactured with more cores but have some turned off due to defects or to fill cheaper price points can potentially be unlocked.  Thus any processor built on a quad core process but retails with three cores, could potentially have another core unlocked - such as the Phenom II X3 720 could be unlocked to the Phenom II X4 920.  But, unlocking cores is a function of the processor itself - given the close price points of all the unlockable processors, it has always been suggested that you should buy the processor you want, rather than the potential of unlocking cores which may or may not be possible.

The theory has been that new quad cores may be released using AMDs six-core Thuban design, with the first product being called the Phenom II X4 960T.  Due to the motherboard manufacturers, it has also been known that this quad core processor could be unlocked to the full six cores if the silicon allows it. However, given the statement above by AMD, no 960T may be seen at retail.

Various vendors currently have access to engineering samples of the Phenom II X4 960T, and with a quick blast on Google there are cases of unlocking both cores presented.  However, this means little to the system builder that wants six cores on the cheap, if it can only be obtained by OEMs.

If there is no 960T at retail, what can we expect?  We have little doubt that quad core processors based on six core dies will go on general release at some point this year - it would be an opportunity that AMD couldn't miss.  However, we may have to wait until Q3 or Q4 this year to see the products.

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  • BernardP - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    Looking at the upcoming 960T, I was more interested in the 3.0 GHz to 3.4 GHz Turbo feature ( 2 cores) within a 95 Watt TDP. The core unlocking comes with uncertainties and is of marginal use for most users.

    AMD would gain from releasing a new stepping of the Phenom II 4-core die enabling the Turbo feature. Since a 3.2 GHz Phenom II @ 95 W TDP is just around the corner, a 3.2/3.6 Turbo version within the same power enveloppe is not unthinkable with a new stepping.
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    It's a tough situation for AMD I hadn't really thought of. No smart buyer would be buying a current quad core CPU without Turbo Core when one that does have this feature is just around the corner (and will probably be about the same price).
  • HangFire - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    "that you should by the processor you want, "...

    I suggest you BUY the processor you want.

    Not surprising, I don't think that AMD wants to cannibalize sales of the 945/955/965 just yet. I suspect we'll see more Black Editions and unlockable cores in Thuban as the initial novelty (and volume sales) wears off.
  • IanCutress - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    Apologies on the spelling mistake. I'm usually fastidious about these things, but that got past an editor as well! Will scrutinize more in the future :)

    All the best,
  • I.M.O.G. - Friday, May 14, 2010 - link

    Hi Ian! has posted a retraction today, is your source also readjusting his tune after these initial reports?
  • IanCutress - Friday, May 14, 2010 - link

    I did see etexnix's report, but I've heard nothing from my source, and they don't quote theirs. I have a feeling that at some point AMD will release an X4 Thuban, but what we were told was essentially it won't be the 960T except to OEMs. As always, if we get new information, we'll update you at AT :)

    All the best,
  • rickcain2320 - Friday, May 14, 2010 - link

    The six core is so inexpensive its not worth the effort, and a 4 core Thuban would compete with the 4 core Deneb.
  • cgramer - Monday, May 17, 2010 - link

    Hi, Ian. Spotted this in the third paragraph (arrows added):

    " that processors that are manufactured with more --> processors <-- but have some turned off due to defects..."

    I think you meant to write:

    " that processors that are manufactured with more cores but have some turned off due to defects..."

    Interesting post, though! Thanks!

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