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AMD updates multicore chips as Intel ups pressure

Company announces replacements in its Phenom desktop chip line amid drastic price cuts from Intel.

Advanced Micro Devices officially announced on Wednesday an updated Phenom chip line amid severe price pressure from Intel.

As expected, AMD has updated its triple-core Phenom X3 processors with the "50" series. The 8450, 8650, and 8750 models will replace and supplement the current 8400 and 8600. The newer models contain a fix for an extremely rare "TLB" bug.

The Phenom X3 8750 (2.4GHz) processor is priced at $195, the 8650 (2.3GHz) at $165, and the 8450 (2.1GHz) at $145.

AMD also announced a low-power quad-core Phenom X4 9100e processor that has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) or thermal envelope of 65 watts, compared with the 95 watts of standard X4 processors.

AMD Phenom processors with new X3 models
AMD Phenom processors with the new X3 models in bold. AMD

AMD is looking to bundle the Phenom X3 chips with its 780 graphics silicon in low-cost gaming PCs. Hewlett-Packard and Gateway are currently using Nvidia graphics in their consumer boxes that use Phenom X3 chips.

According to AMD, the X3 platform offers the best balance of processor and graphics: "On one side, we have Nvidia saying that the only thing that matters is graphics. On the other side, Intel is saying that the only thing that matters is the processor. (AMD offers) a balanced platform that doesn't overemphasize one really expensive component over another really expensive component," said Brent Berry, product marketing manager for AMD.

But things may have just gotten a lot tougher for the No. 2 processor maker in the higher-end quad-core segment. Intel on Sunday cut prices on quad-core processors by up to 50 percent, undermining--or in some cases eliminating--AMD's price advantage.

"This product cycle is already discounted," said Ashok Kumar, an analyst at CRT Capital Group. "This puts additional pressure on AMD."

Intel's price cuts brought its quad-core Q6700 (2.66GHz) down from $530 to $266 and its Q6600 (2.4GHz) from $266 to $224. The latter is now priced below AMD's top-line quad-core Phenom 9850 (2.5GHz), which is listed at $235.

"With a 16 percent price cut, the Q6600 is now undoubtedly the processor of preference for a budget quad-core system," review site Hexus said.