AMD Phenom II, Dragon Platform, and Stream Technology
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: November 21, 2008
AMD Austin Campus:
This past Thursday, OverclockersClub.com was one of a small group of press and testers who were invited to a Tech Day at AMD's Austin, TX campus for some upcoming hardware and software that will be gracing us in the next few months. On this day we had the fortune of interacting with some of AMD's engineers and PR personal about what we should be expecting from now till CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and boy, let me tell you, it is worth waiting to see what AMD has under its sleeves. The star of the show was what we all have known as "Deneb" for the past while, however AMD is going to be keeping the Phenom naming, calling this new 45nm processor the Phenom II. What does this new secret mean for you and what might it have in store? In addition to the new CPU line, AMD is putting together a new platform which is designed to have the hardware working in harmony, or what the company is calling FUSION.
What has previously been known only as codename "Deneb" is now officially going to be known from this point as the AMD Phenom II, which is manufactured using a 45nm process but that is not all. Although the specific details of the Phenom II are still under embargo, it surely has my interest piqued and I cannot wait until the releases. There were several demonstrations that were set up for us during the Tech Day and what I saw first hand was impressive. AMD had four machines set up for us to see, all with AMD Phenom II processors, AMD 790GX based motherboards, Radeon HD 4870x2 graphic cards and similar other components running on four different methods of cooling. There was one machine running with a CoolerMaster Hyper CPU cooler, one running with a CoolIT Freezone Elite, one running with phase change, and one running on Liquid Nitrogen (LN2). While we can't give you specifics, we can tell you that on the machine running on air with the CoolerMaster Hyper cooler, the machine was running benchmark stable overclocked around 4.0GHz and on LN2, let's just say it was WELL OVER 5.0GHz benchmark stable. One of the most impressive factors to me is that the air cooled system was doing this all on 1.55v and the temperature was holding steady running a benchmark at 55 degrees Celsius. The LN2 system of course was able to take more and was taking around 1.75v and running cooler than the North Pole (pun intended) at around -190 degrees Celsius (no cold bug perhaps). We have been expecting the Phenom II processors to release in the first quarter of 2009, which everyone knows is when CES is, so keep your fingers crossed.
Dragon, you say. What is that? Dragon is the name of the new platform AMD is coming out with to succeed the Spider platform. Dragon takes the new technology coming out with the new processors and ties it into a platform designed to work in unity for maximum efficiency and power. The Dragon platform, from what we know thus far, is comprised of the soon to come AMD Phenom II processors, AMD 790GX based motherboards, and the well known ATI HD Radeon 4800 series graphics cards. With the release of the new platform, you can truly harness the power of the next gen processors for efficient power management and raw computing power. According to AMD, expect to see the Dragon platform in the first quarter of 2009 following the release of the Phenom II CPUs.
AMD Stream Processing and Video Encoding:
The last bit of technology that AMD pleased us with is its Stream Processing capabilities and video encoding. By offloading some tasks from the CPU to the GPU, we all know you can speed up some tasks very quickly. AMD showed us a demonstration encoding an HD video feed recorded from a tuner card and encoded that feed to a Sony PlayStation Portable in a matter of a few minutes versus a half hour or more from some competitors. For those of us who take our media with us on portable devices or use our PC for media purposes, this new technology is a great step toward the future. One thing I would like to note is that all of the video demonstrations were not done on a monster 4870 or 4870X2, but rather on a 4600 series card designed for media without breaking the bank. AMD has told us that the encoding program will be included in a future Catalyst update.
All in all, I am very excited for what AMD has in store for us. Those of us who did not want to give up hope, a light has come and those who never gave a second look will be staring now. Granted, I am reserving all final decisions until we receive the hardware to review hands on and compare side by side with hardware on hand, but what I have seen has been quite impressive and I, for one, am eager to get my hands on this new hardware. With the price to performance ratio, recently released hardware has shown that the newer CPUs and platforms should have a treat for us all from mainstream to enthusiast alike. I would like to thank AMD for all of its hospitality during the event.