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AMD Spider and Phenom 9700 Hands-on

The big black box code-named “Spider“ has a (engineering sample) quad-core Phenom 9700 2.4GHz processor, AMD 790FX chipset and an 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3850 graphics card.

Hector Ruiz could very well be Santa and his PR people, elves.

Needless to say it’s been a pretty tough year for Advanced Micro Devices. Starting from August, chief of sales and marketing officer Henri Richards announced to leave the company. Then came the fourth consecutive quarter net loss of nearly $400 million, total net loss of over $2 billion. More recently, AMD became less valued then what it paid for ATI last year. To the company and its many loyalists, all bets were on Phenom and the next-generation ATI Radeon graphics card.

Shortly after the announcement of Spider and Pheom, benchmarks started trickling out with not-so-good news. At least early-production Phenom review samples suffered problems with stability in what is now known as the TLB errata. If that wasn’t enough, the only workaround resulted in dramatic performance loses. As an outsider at the time, it seemed like quite the tragedy.

Having exhaustively used Spider for two day now, I see no reason why AMD will “fall”, in fact I believe AMD’s on the right path to reclaiming its former Athlon64 glory. It’s not there yet, with Intel’s Core 2 Extreme and Nvidia’s Geforce 8800-series delivering marginally better performance, but there’s room for improvement down the road..

Platform-wise, Spider is actually a great idea. Sure, it’s purely marketing and branding but it’s worked wonders for Intel.

The benchmark is of course, Centrino, Intel’s platform for mobile computing. Soon enough, people were buying exclusively Centrino laptops because there was a standard of quality and compatibility that came with the combination of Intel processors, chipsets and wireless cards. To the average consumer, that meant a better laptop experience without all the cryptic model numbers. Unfortunately Intel could not repeat the magic with Viiv.

For AMD, Spider is a high-performance computing platform which describes the combination of a Phenom 9xxx processor, ATI Radeon 38xx GPU and the AMD 7-series chipset. To average Joe, Spider means the computer will deliver enough horsepower for all the latest blockbuster games and entertainment.

If Joe (and remember Joe doesn’t read 500 RSS feeds) walks into a store and sees one computer with “Spider”, and another with “Intel QX6600, NVIDIA Geforce 8800GT, NVIDIA Nforce 690i”, you can see where AMD has the upper hand.

Performance-wise, Spider is nothing short of a top-tier experience. Again, it’s not number one, but it’s pretty damn close.

Full Review

AMD, Spider, Phenom, GPUs, Graphics Card, Video Card, Benchmarking, Review, Hands-on

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