Since October, AMD's top-of-the-line desktop processor has been the FX-8350. Based on Vishera silicon, this chip boasts eight Piledriver cores clocked at 4GHz with a 4.2GHz Turbo peak. The FX-8350 may soon give up its flagship status, but not to the sort of successor one might expect. The guys at Hexus say they "have it on good authority" that AMD is readying a faster, Vishera-derived model that can run at 5GHz.
Codenamed Centurion, this new addition "is guaranteed to run at 5GHz," according to the site. While guarantees are pretty emphatic, it's unclear whether the quoted frequency refers to the base clock, the Turbo peak, or some sort of validated headroom for overclockers. AMD told overclockers to expect the FX-8350 to reach 5GHz, so that speed certainly isn't unreasonable for a new high-end part based on the same foundation.
We haven't seen AMD offer a truly high-end desktop processor in a long time, but Centurion appears to fit the bill. Hexus claims the chip will be available in "very limited quanities" and be priced at an eye-popping $795.
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in.
For reference, the FX-8350 sells for just $200 right now. Expecting folks to pay four times more for a chip that runs only 25% faster seems like a stretch, regardless of how many free games are bundled with the CPU. Several generations of Intel Extreme Edition processors have carried similarly lofty premiums, but they've also been able to stake reasonable claims to the "fastest desktop processor" crown. Even at 5GHz, Vishera may be unable to top the fastest Sandy Bridge-E processors on the market. Perhaps that's why it's purportedly priced at about 800 bucks; the Core i7-3970X rings in at over a grand.
The Intel chip has a 150W TDP, and it seems likely that a 5GHz Vishera-derived processor would require more thermal headroom than the FX-8350's 125W rating. Hexus says Centurion will hit 5GHz with only air cooling, though.