Four-core AMD powerhouse for gamers coming

Resellers are going to be able to sell a Canadian-designed, Hewlett-Packard-made four-core PC touted to be one of the fastest machines for gaming.

Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait until early next year to do it.

Rahul Sood, chief technologist for HP’s global gaming business unit –- which used to be Calgary’s VooDoo PC until HP bought it several months ago –- said the division will build computers based on the new AMD Quad FX platform.

The motherboard design allows two pairs of Athlon 64 FX-70 series dual core CPUs to create a four-processor powered machine. Each pair of processors can have up to two megabytes of dedicated DDR2 RAM, allowing multiple applications to run simultaneously, AMD said.

“We’re making PCs designed for enthusiasts, prosumers,” said Sood, “people who want to use multiple processors for high-end computing applications.

Even the motherboard can be overclocked to bump performance, he said.

However, he added that it is too early to say how many models HP will offer or what packages of video card, sound card and hard drives they will come with.

But he did say systems, available in the first quarter of next year, will start at $3,500.

Still, he said it won’t be a limited run. “We’re committed to this platform,” he said. “We think its pretty strong.”

AMD said PCs based on the platform will also be available from Vigor, Cyber Power as well as major system builders.

However, it trails Intel in the multiple-processor race. Last month it announced a quad-core desktop processor, highly threaded applications such as games. The Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor QX6700 is available at 2.66GHz with a 1066MHz FSB. The processor runs on Intel’s existing 975X Express chipset family.

Intel has also released quad-core Xeon chips for servers, while AMD’s offerings aren’t expected for several months. However, AMD counters that unlike Intel, it’s quad-core Operton server CPUs will have four processors on one piece of silicon.

Late last month AMD demonstrated a pre-production version of that chip to industry analysts.

Nathan Brookwood, a Saratoga, Calif.-based microprocessor analyst who was at that demo said it is too early to say if the Opterons will outperform Intel’s Xeons.

However, he was impressed with the specifications of the Quad FX platform, whose motherboard has room for eight memory modules, 12 SATA hard drives and four graphic cards.

He believes that a loaded machine would have enough power to run a commercial flight simulator.

By comparison, Intel has taken a “reasonably nice” motherboard and equipped it with room for only six disk drives and two graphics cards.

Both companies are targeting perhaps only one or two per cent of PC buyers, he added, who want – and will pay for peak performance.

“We’re trying to build a next-level system that’s different from any other system we have,” said Sood. Eventually the platform will allow eight pairs CPUs, he said. “I am excited about the future potential.”

Brookwood has another word: “It’s absolutely scary,” he said of the potential horsepower. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with all this performance.

“But,” he added, “I’ve been saying that for 10 years.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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