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UPDATED: AMD hits 6.3 GHz, steals Intel’s i7 thunder

During morning hours in US, I was contacted by several high-level executives who asked me is it true that AMD was sold to a private investor.
Timing of such rumor was without any doubt, pure FUD attack to steal the thunder from today’s announcement that got the press and enthusiasts tingly like elementary school girl.
The announcement is expiry of embargo on AMD’s Press Preview, held recently in Austin, Texas. Like I hinted in an article just days ago, AMD worked with selected hard-core overclockers to tune up the Phenom II CPU and Dragon platform (790GX chipset with AM3 socket, nothing earth-shattering here). The results are quite spectacular, to say the least.

Is this the most overclockable CPU die AMD manufactured yet?

Is this the most overclockable CPU die AMD manufactured yet?

AMD decided that the time has come to regain the crown in overclocking, and the company means it. You can thank all of this to several key members of former ATI Technologies, now AMD GPG. I know it is not fair to name the few, since I can’t mention them all, but guys such as Godfrey Cheng, Ian McNaughton, Korhan Eben, Macci, and many unsung heroes combined with old-school AMD executives such as Patrick Moorhead, who keeps his desktop machines OC’ed to 3.2 GHz and arguing with IT Police… All in all, this effort brought a lot of fighting spirit to AMD and these guys are now biting at all sides. First with Radeon series, then with chipsets and now with CPUs.
Phenom II is going to be extremely overclockable. How overclockable? Much.
With good air-cooler, 4.0 GHz is a given on almost every Black Edition CPU that will hit the stores starting January 8, 2009. This is nothing special, since Intel can do the same with Core i7 series. But, with water-cooling or TEC-enhanced water-cooling (hint: CoolIT), you can easily reach 4.5 GHz and beyond.
But, the real show starts when we dip below the zero degrees Celsius/Centigrade. History of AMD and sub-zero cooling is quite interesting. AMD was the first manufacturer to showcase vapor chamber and liquid oxygen cooling (yes, oxygen, not nitrogen) with Athlon 550 MHz that reached 1.03 GHz and became the first CPU to pass the 1 GHz mark. As the time went by, AMD slowly started to move away from Swashbuckler attitude lead by Jerry Sanders and put a dull corporate Motorola face lead by Hector Jesus Ruiz. All of this is past now, since AMD put substantial effort to produce a CPU which operating temperature is massive 300 degrees Celsius!
Yes, you’ve read it correctly – from -200 to +100, you can be certain that your Phenom will not fail. On-die sensors are tweaked up and they will not lock the part at -100 or -20C, and you can use dry ice or LN2 to crank it up to the max.

The max reached so far by AMD team is… 6.0 GHz! Given that most LN2 clockers use dual-core CPUs to reach 5.5+ GHz speeds, seeing 6.0 GHz CPU running applications such as Crysis is a testament to monumental effort put by AMD’s CPU and Chipset team. Don’t think this was CPU team only effort – guys from Markham worked hard on Advanced Clock Calibration, or ACC. ACC is exactly “the secret sauce” AMD needed to unlock these levels of performance.
Hitting 4.0 GHz on air, 4.5 on water, 4.5+ on TEC+water, 5.6 GHz on dry ice and there was a post at 6.0 GHz. Given the fact that dry ice is “weaker” solution than LN2, it will be really interesting to see what will happen when hard-core overclockers get their hands on these 45nm ice-cold babies.
AMD is back. And yes, Intel’s Core i7 thunder has just been stolen completely. Core i7 is a great CPU, but quite expensive platform, with three channels of DDR3. AMD Phenom II comes out with 16 GB/s of memory bandwidth using only two channels, and clocking like there’s no tomorrow.
The best part of them all is the price: AMD Phenom II 940 Black Edition will set you back for 40% of the amount you have to shell out for Core i7 Extreme 965 and yet, it comes with a radically cheaper platform of equal or even better overclocking capabilities.

UPDATE Nov 22, 2008, 08:09AM: Journalists that visited AMD Austin HQ were confined by Non-Disclosure Agreement, and after first news of hitting 6 GHz, websites started to change the story. However, according to our sources, AMD hit more than 6.0 GHz clock, and this was confirmed by CRN magazine in UK, who did not adhere to NDA and published a clock speed of 6.3 GHz. So, there you go – 45nm Phenom using Silicon-Germanium SOI wafers hit 6.3 GHz, higher than Intel was able to hit with Core i7 and its 45nm High-K Hafnium wafers (for now).