Get ready for six-core Phenom IIs. Confirming an earlier report from the rumor mill, Maximum PC says it has received word from "AMD officials" that the company will indeed release six-core desktop processors next year.
Reportedly, the CPUs will bear the Thuban code name and squeeze six cores plus a DDR3 memory controller onto a 45-nm die. Not too surprisingly, the story adds that Thuban will be "backwards compatible with existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards."
Maximum PC draws parallels with Istanbul, the six-core Opteron design AMD launched in June. That part only supports DDR2 memory, though. As we pointed out when discussing the rumor, Thuban will in all likelihood be based on AMD's second-gen six-core silicon, Lisbon, which will launch next year as part of a new C32 platform with DDR3 support.
Intel also has a six-core processor on the way: Gulftown, which will launch next year and should pop into existing X58 motherboards. Considering the performance delta between quad-core Phenom IIs and Core i7s, however, we wouldn't expect Thuban to compete directly with Gulftown.