We've yet to actually see any desktop Phenom parts appear on the market, but already AMD has extended the line-up of what is going to be (eventually) available in the range. We already know that we'll be seeing dual and quad-core parts hitting the shops soon enough, but the latest details from California have revealed that tri-core processors are on the bill as well.
The most notable aspect of the announcement is that AMD will be breaking into a market into which Intel cannot follow with its current architecture. AMD's native design, however, means that dropping one of the cores from the final package is a relatively simple process.
Firstly, there is the obvious benefit of selling any quad-core chips that come off the production line with a single dead core, then there is the benefit of being able to hit higher clock speeds because of the removed heat from the disabled or missing core and of course the benefit of being able to hit a price point between dual and quad-core.
Seeing as most current software is only just starting to take advantage of dual-core, having three makes a lot of sense. Two cores can be set to work on the dual-core optimised program, while the third runs all the other background software and operating system out of the way of the main task. If the price is right, this could be a great option for gamers.
Initially the chips will be intended for desktop systems, but AMD says that server products aren't out of the question if demand is great enough. Whether this is can become a long-term financial victory for AMD is, obviously, one that only time can tell, but for the short-term tri-core Phenom should offer a much-needed escape from Intel's shadow, at least in one area.