We've seen multiple reports of "unlockable" fourth cores on some Phenom II X3 processors over the past couple of weeks. Today, DigiTimes quotes motherboard manufacturers as saying triple-core Phenom II sales are going up—and they attribute the surge directly to the unlocking claims.
The mobo makers claim "credibility of the reports is very high" in reference to the unlocking rumors, but according to DigiTimes, they also point out that only some Phenom II X3 batches may be unlockable. That could very well be the case. On Tuesday, we spotted a news post that said only triple-core Phenom IIs made during the fourth week of this year could be unlocked. The same report said unlocking was as easy as enabling the Advanced Clock Calibration BIOS setting on certain boards from Biostar, DFI, Gigabyte, and "others."
In theory, unlocking could turn a $145 Phenom II X3 720 into a $189 Phenom II X4 920—assuming your processor wasn't sold as a Phenom II X3 because the fourth core was actually faulty, that is. Even if unlocking doesn't work, though, the X3 720 isn't exactly a bad deal. We saw in our tests that the triple-core chip is a surprisingly worthy competitor to the pricier (and highly popular) Core 2 Duo E8400 from Intel. Perhaps that's contributing to the rise in sales, too.