Among the details of yesterday's AMD Opteron announcement In Barcelona was an official ETA for the Athlon 64's replacement - Phenom.

The desktop part is now set to hit the market in December, though previous reports suggested that only a low quantity would be available then, with a mass release in the new year.

"AMD Phenom processor solutions, which will leverage many of the same benefits of this innovative, next-generation architecture, are expected to be available for the desktop market in December," confirmed the statement given to us at the launch event.

Opteron power

The "native quad-core" Opteron announcement (formerly codenamed Barcelona) was punctuated not so much by talk of performance - AMD is being somewhat cagey about that - but by power consumption. AMD claims that the Opteron chips match the power and thermal envelopes of currently available dual-core processors. Phenom will share many of the same technologies.

CoolCore Technology turns off unused parts of the processor to reduce overall energy consumption in the new chip. Independent Dynamic Core Technology enables each of the four cores to vary its clock frequency depending on the application requirement.

Thirdly, Dual Dynamic Power Management (DDPM) means the cores and memory controllers can operate on different voltages depending on usage. These are truly clever technologies which should make for some interesting marketing when Phenom launches.

AMD promise

Speaking here in Barcelona at the launch yesterday, Dirk Meyer, AMD's president, promised "greater performance at lower and lower power levels... watch this space."

He is referring to promised better clockspeeds for Barcelona - perhaps as soon as the new year - but is surely also hinting at the potential of Phenom.

The new chips are expected to continue the 'X' suffix currently used by the Athlon 64, so Phenom will carry the suffix X4.