AMD Names Quad-Core Line, Rolls Out GPUs

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What do you call two quad-core CPUs and a top-of-the-line graphics processor in the same box? “FASN8,” apparently (pronounced “fascinate”). That’s what AMD dubbed the machine it’s using to promote its latest line of processors and GPUs, unveiled Monday at a press event.

The new quad-core processors will be called the Phenom line. AMD is billing them as the first “true” quad-core processors due to the ability of all four cores to communicate on the die, as opposed to through a front side bus as other manufacturers’ chips do. The Phenom chips will also feature integrated DDR2 memory controllers, HyperTransport technology links, and 128-bit floating point units.

“Quad-core innovations come at a time when many users are finding that the combination of Microsoft Vista, multi-threaded applications and DirectX 10 no longer delivers the crisp performance they experienced on last year’s fastest systems running last year’s software,” said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64. “The AMD Phenom processor’s ability to deliver significantly more performance within the same power and thermal envelopes as its dual-core antecedents should make this quad-core processor a fitting follow-on to earlier AMD dual-core processor offerings.”

AMD’s latest line of graphics processors is the Radeon HS 2000. The biggest selling point will be DirectX 10 compatibility across the line. Other innovations include a second-generation Unified Shader Architecture (USA), 512-bit memory bus designed for high dynamic range (HDR) rendering, and new Unified Video Decoder (UVD) technology for HD multimedia playback.

The Phenom processors are expected to be available in the second half of 2007, with prices to be determined. The flagship ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is available immediately for $399, and the lower-priced Radeon HD 2600 and Radeon HD 2400 cards are scheduled to ship in late June.

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