About a month ago, AMD dropped a bomb on the gaming industry by announcing their new AMD FX-9590 processor, purported to run at 5.0 GHz naively, using out-of-the-box with cooling. The 8-core processor is aimed to deliver new levels of gaming and multimedia performance for desktop gamers. The new 5 GHz chips will feature the “Piledriver” architecture, which are easily unlocked so gamers can enjoy higher CPU speeds than ever seen before. Hardware aficionados might remember that AMD was the first to break the 1 GHz barrier back in May of 2000 and with this announcement prove that they continue to push the envelope for both CPU, APU and GPU technologies.
At the recent E3 2013 conference in Los Angeles, our team received a behind-the-scenes meeting with AMD staff to talk about what’s coming in 2013 and 2014. Specifically, we talked about the new AMD FX-9590 5 GHz processor and AMD’s new attitude with Sr. Product Marketing Manager Marc Diana.
S. Gibson: This is Sean Gibson at E3 2013. I’m joined by Chance Asue from Gaming Illustrated. Say Hi, Chance.
C. Asue: Hello.
S. Gibson: I’m also here with Marc Diana of AMD. How’s it going?
M. Diana: Great, man. Thank you.
S. Gibson: So we are here talking about the new 5 gigahertz desktop 9590 processor if I’m not mistaken. Quickly quick recap of that announcement and what it means for this industry.
M. Diana: Basically what AMD has done is we’ve launched a processor that has the turbo 8-core speed of up to 5.0 gigahertz on this device. It’s also an 8-core processor so it retains that aspect 8-core heritage that the other parts like have, and this part is screaming fast. Right now we’re showing it in the booth with our major system and it’s highly over-clockable and water cooled right now, being paired with the world’s fastest graphics card, the 7990, as well.
S. Gibson: It looks very impressive. You talked about wanting to get through the 5 gigahertz out-of-the-box barrier for a long time and this has been in the works at AMD for a while. What really was the tipping point that made you guys think, yeah, we have this now?
M. Diana: When we launched the FX program it was always our goal to try and break this 5 gigahertz barrier and get a part to the costumer that shipped from AMD at 5 gigahertz. We did some different things, like the 8150 when it launched, where we paired that with a liquid cooling solution that came from the factory at AMD. We were able to hit over-clocking frequencies with that solution on the 990 FX motherboard at 5 gigahertz, but it wasn’t shipped stocked at that level. With Piledriver what we’ve done is we’ve just continued to ring and excavate that product for far more performance. So we kept going back to see how much we could squeeze out. This processor will be launching at the end of July, the 9590 and it’s going to be rolled out to market first since our system integrators are partners like Origin PC, CyberPower, and iBuyPower. Those guys will launch this part first and we’ll see if it makes way to the processor-in-a-box style to the masses, maybe at the end of this year.
S. Gibson: Nice. We know that you’ve also announced some partnerships that you’ve talked about that I noticed at the EA both, that’s pretty exciting news.
M. Diana: That’s really exciting stuff. AMD is the exclusive partner with EA on Battlefield 4. That title is optimized for AMD products. What I mean by that is if you have an AMD Radeon graphics card, if you have AMD FX processor, if you have an AMD APU in your system, you will notice a significant performance increase on Battlefield 4 specifically. We also announced a partnership with Square Enix on an upcoming title called C4. It’s a title that looks really cool. I’m personally waiting for that one. It will also be optimized the same way Battlefield 4 is.
C. Asue: Do you guys see both the CPU and APU side of your company as a war on two fronts, since you are taking on both Intel and Nvidia? Or do you see this as kind of a unified vision to make the best out of one singular machine using both of your technologies?
M. Diana: That’s a great question. With the acquisition of ATI in 2006, AMD has made massive improvements on the graphics side as well as on the CPU side. This is all culminated with the launch of our accelerated processing unit which is known as the APU. We actually launched a new APU last week based on our Richland architecture. The goal was always to make one product that was unified with CPU and GPU technology built into the same product. That’s where we’re at today. In fact, we’re seeing unprecedented levels of performance with this APU product. Now I should also tell you that AMD is powering all three of the next generation consoles in some way, shape or form but specifically with Sony and the PlayStation 4, that product is an APU based product. There’s a reason why we’re powering all three, right? It’s because we make the best product for that market, especially if you talk about gaming, we have the world’s fastest graphics in desktop. We also have the world’s fastest graphics in mobile and this APU is the ambidextrous agile part that brings the best of these both worlds together on one piece of silicon.
S. Gibson: With the new consoles, they’re really not pushing anything more than 1080p to start with which is basically what the PS3 and Xbox 360 already did. For the new consoles and the new APU technology, what does it offer console developers in terms of “special effects” like reflections, anti-aliasing, smoke effects and lighting? Are you guys providing help to those folks so that they have the tools to make it look as good as possible?
M. Diana: Yes. AMD works with a ton of game developers. The question is kind of two-pronged. On the hardware side we also we make this kick-ass APU and we have these great graphics solutions with Radeon that are out there. The hardware that’s in there and being pushed out at a 1080p pixel rate, yeah, you’re going to be able to have lighting effects, you’re going to be able to have technology that basically you haven’t seen in the last generation of consoles. Now on the software side, we work with game developers all of the time. Like the partnership with Battlefield, that is a cross-plate engine optimization. That’s more than just a game. That means that titles that will be launched using that engine will be optimized using AMD products. Over here what we’re showing at the booth are five displays that are synced up running Tomb Raider. What’s special about this game is that there’s a technology called TressFX technology that AMD worked with Crystal Dynamics with and Sporanic to basically make Laura Croft’s hair look ultra-realistic. This has never been seen in the market before. This is unprecedented software technology that AMD has embedded into the market.
You question about displays and resolution, well with PC you can do 4K gaming today and at the end of the summer there’s going to be a lot of new monitors out on the market that are 4K based that will be very affordable. We have a beautiful 32″ monitor back in the lab that’s 4K and I have to tell you that PC gaming on 4K looks incredible.
S. Gibson: Are you able to go back and play on a 1080 or even a 2560 x 1440 after looking at 4K?
M. Diana: I have a 2560 x 1440 at the house and I bought it maybe like a year ago, it’s a great monitor and after using the 4K monitor, its look like dog [fecal matter].
S. Gibson: My final question is that AMD was historically a pretty conservative company that has just come in and really made some very aggressive moves against some very big players. Talk a bit about the culture shift at AMD.
M. Diana: We have a massive shift that has been masterminded by our CEO Rory Reed and his executive team. At our E3 booth we have wrapped the entire booth in a new go-to-market campaign. It tells the story about what is really going on in your PC and we’ve personified some of the characters. We have the internal shift and an external shift that we’re going to market with, so a lot of our messaging is far more aggressive. We’re talking to our customers the way they want to be spoken to and we’re listening to them which is far more important than just screaming at them. We’re getting feedback from social media with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn as well from people just telling us, hey AMD try this, try that and we take that stuff very seriously. Essentially with the win from the console side you’re going to see a whole new AMD. This is our direction, we’re going to stick to it and we’re not going to stop. To quote the graphics guys and their program, “We are never going to settle.” This is our time and we’re going to dominate 2013.
S. Gibson: Awesome. Way to end the interview. Mark, thank you for joining us.
M. Diana: Thank you.