Monday, November 5, 2007

Sneak Peek: AMD's Phenom Quad-Cores, Spider Graphics Platform

Advanced Micro Devices is getting set to launch its first quad-core desktop processor and accompanying Spider platform for high-performance desktop systems. The specific details are under lock and key until the release date, but Spider is coming sooner than earlier reports indicated, and it's the first desktop platform from AMD that was built from the ground up in concert with the chipmaker's graphics division, ATI.

The Spider release will coincide with AMD's launch of its Phenom quad-core desktop processor. That's no accident, as the platform was built to integrate Phenom with a new series of GPUs and chipsets from ATI that will be released alongside the new CPU. AMD acquired the maker of graphic processors, chipsets and video display cards last October.

Oh, and one quick note, in case you missed it -- Phenom isn't a codename. It's the name of the new brand AMD is launching with these quad-core chips.

Phenom's specs are impressive. It will come as no surprise that the chip's "native" quad-core design bears desktop fruit similar to what AMD's recently-launched quad-core Opteron processor does for servers. We're talking energy efficiency, high floating points for memory-intensive applications and easy switch-a-roos from dual-core Athlons to the new quad-cores. Though it's a bit apples-and-oranges, it's also worth noting that the first Phenoms to hit the market will have higher clock speeds than the initial shipments of quad-core Opterons.

All very tasty, though AMD's stress on performance-per-watt for Phenom did strike as a bit odd. It's one thing to highlight Opteron's energy efficiency for the data centers, but don't those crazy gamers actually get a kick out of burning through more fuel than necessary? AMD's response: True, gamers aren't the most power-stingy customers around, let alone the Greenest. But better energy efficiency is still a good sell, because it means fewer fans, which means more headroom in gaming shells for system builders to drop in more gear.

So there.

While Phenom will be available as a processor-in-a-box, and ATI's new products don't require a quad-core processor, by combining all that good stuff on an optimized platform, AMD banks on hitting the enthusiast and high-end home theater markets hard ahead of the holidays.

The new ATI gear fills a hole in AMD's DirectX 10-compatible Radeon line, in the $200 neighborhood. It will also support DirectX 10.1, when that multimedia/gaming interface update ships with the first Windows Vista Service Pack in January. Also look for boosts in ATI's PCI Express, CrossFire and AVIVO HD technology, as well as a brand new chipset family for Phenom called the AMD 700 series.

And overclockers have something to look forward to as well, thanks to a little surprise AMD has built into Spider.

Spider is already in the hands of some partners in AMD's system builder channel. When you get a chance to see it demoed, it's tough to wipe the silly grin off your face as the platform roars into action. Spider is geared towards gaming, and the way it handles lighting, angles and texture is all very impressive.

So everyone stay tuned for AMD latest punch at Intel. Doesn't it looks good already?

1 comment:

Emo Scene Layouts said...

I am waiting for quad core for such a long time.