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AMD blasts off Quad for PC DIYers

New Quad FX Platform gives Advanced Micro Devices an answer to Intel's quad-core PC chip, but in a piecemeal fashion.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.
It has four processing cores; they just don't live together. But Advanced Micro Devices is betting that hard-core gamers won't care about the architecture used to build its new Quad FX Platform.

AMD was expected to launch the new product, via a motherboard built by Asustek Computer. The Quad FX Platform consists of two of the new dual-core Athlon FX-70 series processors connected to two Nvidia chipsets that offer a total of four PCI Express slots for high-end graphics cards, said Ian McNaughton, product manager for AMD's Athlon FX product.

After beating Intel to the punch with new designs over the past few years, AMD is playing catch-up these days. Intel has already launched a quad-core processor for high-end gamers and PC enthusiasts, and the Quad FX Platform is the smaller chipmaker's response to Intel's Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor, as well as the forthcoming Core 2 Quad processor.

The two Athlon FX processors in the Quad FX Platform sit in two different sockets, unlike Intel's QX6700 chip, which combines two dual-core processors into a single package that sits in a single socket. AMD does not plan to introduce a quad-core processor until the second half of 2007, so it is introducing this platform as a way of providing gamers with high-end processor and graphics performance until it launches those quad-core chips, McNaughton said.

However, because the Quad FX Platform uses two sockets, the basic home versions of Windows Vista won't be able to take advantage of the second processor, he said. Only Vista Ultimate, Vista Business, and Vista Enterprise can recognize two processor systems, and it's pretty unlikely that businesses will be buying Quad FX platforms for their employees. When AMD does introduce quad-core chips designed to fit into a single socket, they will fit into the same motherboard used to build the Quad FX Platform.

PC gamers who like to build their own systems will be the main customers for this product, which basically is an official version of what some system builders have been already doing with AMD's dual-core processors, McNaughton said. But boutique PC companies for gamers, such as Vigor and Cyberpower, will also offer Quad FX Platform-based systems.

AMD is charging $999 for two FX-74 processors, $799 for two FX-72 processors and $599 for two FX-70 processors. The motherboard is expected to cost an additional $300 or so, McNaughton said.


Correction: This story mischaracterized the editions of Windows Vista that can recognize PCs with two independent processors. Vista Business, Vista Enterprise and Vista Ultimate can all recognize two processor systems.