Advanced Micro Devices has launched an update to it Dragon platform, along with an addition to its Phenom II X4 family of gaming chips - the 955 Black Edition processor - which AMD is calling its fastest quad-core processor yet.
The AMD Phenom X4 955 has a clock speed of 3.2GHz, an HT link of 2.0GHz and 8MB of total cache. It adds support for Socket AM3 and is memory compatible with DDR2 (double data rate 2) and DDR3.
The move to DDR3 was expected to be happening right now, but the transition has been slowed by the glut of DDR2 memory and the economy, Brent Barry, a brand manager with AMD, told eWEEK.
"Our latest products are backward compatible, so you can make the transition when you're ready," said Barry.
The Phenom X4 955 Black Edition chip distinction denotes that the processor "is unlocked and ready to be overclocked," said Barry.
Black Edition also features Memory Profiles and Smart Profiles.
"People don't always understand exactly what you can do with that many cores," said Barry, explaining the profiles.
"If you're rendering an HD movie, you'll probably use all four cores and push them to the max," said Barry. "Smart Profiles automatically detects what you need. If you're running a game for two cores, it'll pump up the frequency on those two cores, and turn it down on the other two."
To show off the speed of the new processor, AMD has been demonstrating "extreme cooling," said Barry. "We're cooling the CPU with liquid nitrogen or liquid helium. It's crazy fast."
The Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition, AMD says, has set two world records. (A review of the 3.2Ghz version of the Phenom II CPU can be read here.)
The introduction of the speedy processor comes just days after AMD announced its first quarter 2009 financials, posting revenues of $1.177 billion but a net loss of $416 million. The second quarter, AMD said, is seasonally a weak one.
Perhaps understandably, then, on the heels of the financial report came plans for a six-core processor code-named "Istanbul," in June, as well as plans for 2010 and 2011, which included chips based on new architecture, code-named "Bulldozer."
On April 22, AMD additionally announced a 40-watt Opteron EE, a highly efficient chip aimed at cloud computing environments.
Other updates to the Dragon platform include a customizable AutoClock, improved hardware monitoring support with Fan Control and Power Now technology for energy savings when power isn't needed.
AMD says the Phenom X4 955 chip is ready to use with Windows Microsoft Windows 7. Retail price is $245.
Editor's Note: This story reflects a correction made to show AMD's reported 2009 first quarter net loss was $416 million.