ATI, AMD 4x4, Ageia, Alienware and The Wrap-up
The Doublemint Twins - AMD and ATI
ATI gave us a briefing behind closed doors about their next generation mid-range products and we'll be sharing full disclosure with you on these in the next few days actually. ATI officials were also very confident in their upcoming next gen DX10 capable GPU. With rumors and details of NVIDIA's G80 running rampant, they seemed undaunted. Cool.
ATI Triple-head Display
AMD 4X4 Rig
AMD 4X4 100% Load Multitasking
One system that caught our eye was ATI's triple-headed setup running three independent desktops on each with different apps in motion as well.
Besides all of the Intel fan-fare at the show around Core 2, which came as expected, AMD was busy briefing the press (in private sessions) on their 4X4 platform technology, affectionately dubbed "The Quad Father". The center shot above shows a 4X4 configured system running with a pair of 2.6GHz dual core Athlon 64 FX-70s (although this was not officially confirmed). Word has is that we might see cores up to 3GHz, with the FX-72 running at 2.8GHz and the FX-74 being the top-shelf behemoth model. On the wide screen above, AMD has two instances of City of Heroes running, two HD video streams playing, including the Battlefield 2142 trailer, and a video conversion going on all at the same time. As you can see all four cores are pegged at 100%, but we navigated around windows with all this running and things were pretty snappy with some resources still available.
What's really going to be interesting in our opinion, is how 4X4 scales performance-wise versus Kentsfield. Recall that Kentsfield is essentially a pair of Core 2 Duo cores on one substrate sharing a single 1066MHz front side bus. Conversely, 4X4 is a pair of dual core Athlon 64 X2 processors each with their own dedicated Hypertransport link. That's a dedicated, bi-directional serial link for each core. We would suspect that the 4X4, though the platform will most likely be more costly, will also probably scale more efficiently. We'll have to see when we get our test system in the lab shortly.
Still swinging for the fences, Ageia was show-casing a game called "Stoked Rider" that had a fairly impressive particle system for snow and was even more impressive to see in action.
Another note-worthy sighting at the Ageia booth, was their new PCI Express version PhysX card. These cards will be of the PCIe X1 variety and might give you a reason to actually use those spare slots on your new motherboard. Incidentally, the board doesn't have a bridge chip of any kind on it. So it seems as though Ageia's PhysX engine has a native PCI Express interface on die. They'll need it. Those boards need to be priced competitively. Honestly, we think the company is ripe for an acquisition but for now they're definitely still gaining traction with developers and OEM partners.
Then of course there was Alienware, probably one of the most well-attended booth areas at the show, with Hollywood celebs, a LAN gaming area and also an Alienware AMD Quad Father based system of their own on display.
Alienware was running the same quad-core stress test that we saw in the AMD suite, but their Aurora Quad Father system was impressive and super-sexy as per usual. Another sublime and svelte offering from Alienware was their DHS A Home Theater PC (middle shot, top row). HDCP-ready with integrated NVIDIA graphics and an Athlon 64 X2 dual core under the hood, this sleek little number has RAID-ability and will blend in with the rest of your A/V components nicely. Finally, yes that's Jason Mewes from the movie "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back". God helps us, they'll let any sort of riff-raff in this place.
That about wraps-up our quick little tour of duty at this year's DigitalLife show in NYC. We'd like to encourage more major OEMs to offer a presence in this relatively new, up-coming high tech consumer-oriented venue. Hey, it's in New York. You can't go wrong there. The Big Apple, city of all cities, home of Robert Dinero and the Gotti family. Come to the show, or they just might bring it to you, capiche?