Take A Look At AMD's Phenom And Spider

AMD's native quad-core micro-architecture gives Phenom certain advantages over Intel's Core 2 Quad desktop processors, particularly in areas of memory and power usage. The only question is whether Intel's move to hafnium with its 45nm process makes up enough ground in those areas to nullify that advantage as both chipmakers ramp up their new products in the coming months.

Phenom is the latest and greatest desktop chip from AMD. With native quad-core design, it's got an integrated DDR2 dual-channel memory controller, shared third-level cache, HyperTransport 3.0 and Cool'n'Quiet 2.0 technology. The first products released, the Phenom 9500 (pictured, left) and 9600, have clock speeds of 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz respectively. Initial prices are set at $251 and $283.

Next up, the Phenom FX-80 series for high-end gaming systems (pictured, right) and the triple-core Phenom 8000 series.

Here's what you get with Phenom, according to AMD:

- Next-generation HyperTransport 3.0 with bandwidth for high-definition 1080P video playback and ultra-high resolution gaming;

- Three levels of cache, including new shared L3 cache, for faster data sharing, enhancing multi-tasking and multi-threaded performance;

- 128-bit floating point units for faster performance on computationally intense security, entertainment, gaming, modeling and simulation applications;

- Improved branch prediction for faster performance in Visual Basic, C++ and Java applications;

- Industry-leading memory performance with a 128-bit dual-channel integrated memory controller supporting up to DDR2 1066 (pending JEDEC approval and release of DDR2-1066 specification);

- True quad-core design with all cores, memory controller and separate I/O interface communicating through a high-performance crossbar switch

AMD's new ATI Radeon HD 3800 graphics processor series is a mid-priced stand-alone product, but it was built to slide right into the chip maker's new Spider platform for super-charged quad-core gaming systems. The Radeon HD 3800 series is AMD's first manufactured with the 55nm process and first to support DirectX 10.1, Microsoft's multimedia API set to be shipped with Windows Vista Service Pack 1 in January. Launch prices for the GPUs were $179 for the 3850 and $219 for the 3870.

The new Spider platform for high-performance systems combines AMD's new Phenom quad-core desktop CPU, its ATI Radeon HD 3800 GPU series and the chipmaker's 790FX chipset. Here's what you get when you integrate the total package:

- Enhanced multi-GPU support;

- HyperTransport 3.0;

- PCI Express 2.0;

- Triple and Quad configurations;

- Extreme overclocking with AMD's new OverDrive software interface, featuring Novice, Advanced and Automated performance tuning modes

The ATI Radeon HD 3800 GPU and motherboard has hot cartoon babes on the casing, if you're into that sort of thing.

Slide in as many as four of these babies on to AMD's Spider platform and get ready for 'octaview' gaming -- that's right, eight monitors' and 42 PCI Express lanes' worth of explosions and mindless killing.