Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday said it has started shipping triple-core Phenom processors, bringing desktops with the chip closer to release.

The triple-core processors are shipping in volume to PC makers only right now, AMD officials said. It declined further comment on chip availability and specifications.

Many major vendors, including Dell and Hewlett-Packard, have hinted at including the Phenom triple-core processors in desktops.

Dell has listed plans to use the chip in its OptiPlex 740 business desktop systems, with 1.5M bytes of L2 cache and 2M bytes of shared L3 cache, in an online brochure. Dell will ship the triple-core OptiPlex in the second quarter, a company spokeswoman said, declining further comment.

Hewlett-Packard has also listed a desktop on its Bulgarian-language Web site with AMD's Phenom Triple-Core 8600B processor that runs at 2.3 GHz, with 1.5M bytes of L2 cache. HP officials were not available for comment.

Mesh Computer, a PC vendor in the U.K., has already started offering two desktops with the triple-core Phenom. The company is including an AMD Phenom 8400 Triple-Core processor, which runs at 2.1GHz, in the Matrix XXX Plus desktop. It is using AMD's Phenom 8600 Triple-Core, which runs at 2.3GHz, in the Matrix XXX Pro desktop.

AMD last year added the triple-core processor to its chip lineup and said it would be available in the first quarter of 2008. It is positioning the chip as a better choice than dual-core chips, with the third core providing additional processing power to carry out computing tasks like antivirus scanning.