On Tuesday December 9th 2008 I was fortunate enough to be invited to the prerelease extravaganza for the new AMD Phenom II. It was an extravaganza to be sure. They had everything from games, overclocking contests, giveaways, and an open bar. It was a site to be seen for sure. When I first walked in I had to get the formalities out of the way. Getting registered was easy and streamlined. All that they needed was my E-mail address, my signature on a photo release, and my guesses for the overclocking contest and I was golden to check out the event.
After you register the first thing you see is two large displays. Each one was connected to the new Dragon platform set up in the new Antec Skeleton cases. Each machine was running the Phenom II 940, a gigabyte 790gx, and the ATI 4870 X2. To show off what these machines could do they had the game Grid set up with they full logitec driving seat, wheel and pedals. Later in the evening I discovered I need a lot of practice in driving games. The games were set at the highest resolution and ran flawlessly. It became clear to me at this point that AMD may be onto something here.
As I continued my journey deeper into the event they had more games set-up. They were all running on they new AMD Dragon Platform, and they ran perfect. They had Call of Duty 4: modern warfare, Company of heroes, and last but not least Crysis. I had the chance to play them all on the highest settings and they ran Phenomenally. There is one more table for me to play with.
This table had two more computers set up on it, both were connected to 50 inch displays (I believe that’s the right size), and both playing Crysis. After talking to one of the fine gentlemen from AMD I learned what was special about this display. The computer on the left was AMD’s new Dragon Platform, and the computer on the right was the new Intel I7 @3.2. Both machines were running the ATI 4870 x2 graphics card. The two computers side by side ran great on the highest settings. Earlier in the evening they had fraps running on both machines, one of the machines got restarted and fraps didn’t. Unfortunately I did not see the frame rate while fraps was running so I am unable to compare the actual numbers. Though from a visual perspective each was holding its own against the other.
The last area was more of a spectator event. This was the overclocking demo/contest. For this there were two teams. The first was from AMD and the second team was from Finland. The contest was done in two parts. The first part was air-cooling and the second (and my favorite) was done using Liquid Nitrogen. Each team was randomly given Five of the Phenom II 940 chips cooled by a Cooler Master Z600 in a pus-pull configuration. The goal of this was to achieve the highest stable overclock. Stability was tested with two loops of the Crysis cpu test. Each team worked side by side with only 30 minutes to achieve their highest stable clock. Both teams were using the Gigabyte 790gx motherboard and the 4870x2 graphics card. Windows Vista was preloded all they needed was the chips.
Once they got the new Phenom II chips they were off. Once windows loaded they fired up AMD overdrive to do the overclocking. Each team was switching chips faster than I could keep up. But the End result was astonishing. Team AMD achieved a 3.94ghz clock speed and Team Finland fell just short with a 3.9ghz. Pretty damn amazing given they only had 30 minutes to complete this. This round was one by Team AMD. After this was announced they told us it was time to see who had the closest guess for the air overclocking contest. Then they brought out some prizes. The top prize was an ATI 4870x2 graphics card. They also gave away several ATI 4850 graphics cards, and a few of the Killer and Killer K-1 network cards. The closest guesses at the beginning of the evening received the first choice of prizes.
After a short break for the overclockers the fun began. Liquid Nitrogen was used to cool the cpu’s. Using liquid nitrogen they were able to bring the temperature of the chip’s close to -180 degrees.
Using the new AMD Dragon platform Team Finland won this round achieving a core clock of 6.0ghz. Team AMD fell just short at about 5.9ghz. After they ran the Crysis Cpu for two loops they ran 3dMark05. It scored mid 35000 points. I’m sure with a bit more tweaking and a second 4870x2 we could have seen a new world record. Either clock speed is amazing to achieve in such a short time frame.
The time had come for the winning guesses for the liquid nitrogen overclocking contest. Five people had guessed right with 6.0ghz. Each of them will receive a brand new AMD Phenom II chip once they are released. These chips are said to be of an undetermined speed. We will wait to see what exactly that means. Though at the end of the night noone went home with out something. Every one who had not yet won is also going to receive an AMD Phenom II processor after they are released.
All in all, the entire event was a success. Many of the people that I talked to there who where running older chips or other chips are now considering building a new machine with a Phenom II at the core. Myself included! I believe, AMD may just take a bite out of their competitors market share in the enthusiast market.