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AMD Consumer Electronics Event in NYC
Date: Jul 19, 2007
Author: Marco Chiappetta
Media Centers, Notebooks, and UVD


AMD hosted a small gathering in the Penthouse at the SoHo Grand Hotel in New York City yesterday (yes, the same place that Lindsey Lohan had her meltdown a few weeks ago), to showcase some of their existing products and technologies, to show off a few products built by their partners, and to demo some products due to be released in the coming months.  We attended the event and snapped some photos of the various demo stations and thought we'd share them with you here.

We're sure many of you have already seen some of the items that were on display, but we were able to get a bit more up close and personal with a few of them and can give more insight into their operation.  The various rooms were filled with different types of systems / devices and all of them featured an AMD product or technology at their heart.





As soon as we walked in we noticed a few complete systems up and running, from companies like Dell, Acer, HP, and Alienware.  The tiny Acer Aspire L series machine immediately caught our eye due to its sleek design and diminutive enclosure.  Although it appeared to be of a similar size to what's specified in AMD's DTX form factor guidelines, the Acer Aspire L series is actually a bit smaller than what DTX calls for.  Of course the systems are powered by AMD Athlon or Sempron processors, but the chipset in this machine comes by way of NVIDIA.  Acer Aspire L series machines are currently available in a number of different configuration with prices ranging from $500 on up.

Alienware's new Hangar 18 HD HTPC was also on display, connected to a large Toshiba TV, ATI's OCUR TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner, and a Hewlett Packard MediaSmart Server. Like the Acer machine, the Hangar 18 HD was also powered by an AMD processor / NVIDIA chipset combo.  The CPU was a 65W Athlon 64 X2 dual-core and the chipset features integrated GeForce graphics with HDMI output.  The back of the system housed a number of inputs and outputs to facilitate the connection to virtually any home theater setup.  And the system is virtually silent.  You can also catch a glimpse of the back of a HP MediaSmart Server in lower right of the picture of the outputs on the Hangar 18. That little machine, which is about the size of small shoebox, also features an AMD processor, and both feature AMD Live! software. AMD was also quick to point out that all of the televisions in the room (hooked up to the HTPCs, an XBox 360, and a UVD machine) feature ATI Xilleon or NXT products as well.





AMD was also showing off a number of notebooks built by their key partners, equipped with AMD processors, chipsets, and graphics. A new Toshiba Satellite A215 notebook was on display that featured a Turion 64 X2 processor, Radeon graphics, Atheros WiFi, and a built-in fingerprint scanner.  It also featured the AMD "Better by Design" decals we talked about in our CES showcase which are meant to help potential customers to easily ascertain what hardware is used in the system.  An MSI notebook featuring a black piano finish and a Swarovski Crystal encrusted logo was also on display, along with the Acer Ferrari, and Dell's new colorful Inspiron 1520/1521.  An HP Pavilion tx1000x Entertainment notebook was there as well, that features a swiveling touch-screen, and of course a Turion X2 processor.  The Pavilion tx1000x Entertainment notebook's design gives users the ability to use the machine as a tablet PC or a standard notebook.




A mid-tower machine was setup in another corner of the room with a Radeon HD 2600XT, Athlon 64 X2 processor, and an external XBox 360 HD DVD drive to showcase the decoding and HD playback capabilities of the UVD engine built into some of the products in the Radeon HD 2000 series of graphics cards.  The Bourne Supremacy (VC-1) was being played on the machine and output to a large TV through the Radeon's HDMI output and CPU utilization hovered in the mid-20 to low-30 percent range with hardware acceleration enabled.

CE Devices and Phenom

There were a couple of other devices on display at the event as well that don't fall into typical 'PC' categories.  One was the Hewlett Packard TouchSmart IQ 770 and the other the HTC Advantage 7501.




The Hewlett Packard TouchSmart IQ 770 is basically a custom PC that features mobile-oriented parts like an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor and GeForce Go graphics, and a high-resolution, wide aspect touch screen, wireless input devices, a TV tuner, a webcam, a flash media reader and a custom menu driven interface that runs atop Windows Vista.  The HP TouchSmart shell is designed to make the system easy for anyone to use, with oversized icons and a simple horizontal scrolling menu.  If you want to access the internet for example, all you have to do is touch the internet icon on the screen; the notes menu the notes icon, and so on.  The system has the ability to record and watch television programming, video conference, manage a calendar and contacts, and other related functions.  The notes menu in particular was pretty cool, as it has the ability to take video or audio notes, typed notes, or even hand written notes recorded right from the touch screen.  And all of the notes are displayed as post-its that can moved anywhere on the screen with the touch of a finger.




The HTC Advantage 7501 is a little harder to characterize.  It's essentially a cross between a UMPC, Phone, PDA, and portable GPS.  The device features and AMD Imageon processor, 8GB of flash memory, a 5" touch screen, and a built in magnetic QWERTY keyboard, GPS navigator and 3MP camera.  It runs Windows Mobile 6 with Windows Media Player and has integrated WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0.  It's a little too big to carry in a pocket, but the HTC Advantage 7501 is designed to fill the void between underpowered PDAs and expensive UMPCs.  It should be available sometime towards the end of the summer at around $900.





Perhaps the most interesting item on display - at least to us anyway - was AMD's Phenom powered demo system.  We weren't able to ascertain the clock speed or run any benchmarks, but we were still able to glean some good information about the system and CPU.  The Phenom processor in this rig is installed in an AMD reference RD790 chipset-based motherboard. This motherboard features an AM2+ socket (support for higher HT link speeds and split power planes) and true, dual PCI Express x16 graphics slots.  Affixed to the processor was what looked like your standard AMD PIB heatsink with an 80mm lighted fan.  Throughout the entire demo, we never heard the fan spin up and it remained very quiet throughout.  It wasn't throwing off a lot of heat either, so whatever the clock speed this Phenom processor was running at, it couldn't have been running all that hot.

To showcase the machine, AMD was running a beta version of John Woo's Stranglehold game, featuring Chow Yun Fat; well his likeness anyway.  The game uses a modified version of the Unreal 3.0 engine in coperation with the Havok physics system. The engine is multi-threaded and designed to take advantage of multiple processor cores.  As you can see in one of the pics above, all four of the cores are being utilized while the game is running.  During the demo, we noticed on average about 70% of the processor's resources were being utilized with higher (or lower) spikes depending on how many objects were on screen.  We say objects because most of the items in the game world, like signs, widows, propane tanks, and almost everything else for that matter, can be manipulated or damaged.  Shoot a propane tank, for example, and it'll explode causing a ton of damage and throwing debris in all directions. After watching the game for a while it looked like a cross between Kingpin and Max Payne, with much better graphics than either.  It had plenty of blood and gore, like Kingpin, with the third-person perspective and slo-mo bullet-time of Max Payne.  Although they call it 'Tequila Time' in this game.

Over the course of the demo, representatives from AMD said a top-to-bottom line-up of desktop Phenom processors, priced competitively in the marketplace, will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.  Motherboards based on the RD790-chipset will arrive sooner, from AMD / ATI's traditional board partners.  Although AMD was intentionally tight lipped and wouldn't disclose specific details regarding the processor and chipset just yet, reps seemed confident in Phenom and very excided about the RD790, especially in its overclocking capabilities.  One AMD rep even went so far as to say the Phenom / RD790 platform is going to "change the game".  We should know that means in the next few months, so stay tuned.


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