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Meet AMD's radical Project Quantum PC, a showcase for its new Fiji GPU

Gordon Mah Ung | June 19, 2015
Powerful miniature PCs fascinate me as much as ships in a bottle, so when AMD unveiled its Project Quantum at E3 I was intrigued.

Again, this was an impressive undertaking for AMD. For the liquid cooling, the company even machined custom water blocks or cold plates out of pure copper. Here's a shot of the a pair of the cold plates used.

But what about the motherboard?

There was speculation that Project Quantum would use an AMD APU or CPU. The truth is, AMD knows where the performance curve is, and even though the CPU division will bitterly complain, there's actually Intel inside--a Devil's Canyon Core i7-4790K CPU. Before you run to the Internet to rub it in your favorite AMD fanboy's face, company officials said it is a standard Mini ITX design, so theoretically an AMD CPU could be used too.

AMD said that for the most part, Project Quantum's an off-the-shelf design, but this shot of the motherboard being readied for a Project Quantum box tells me it's been heavily modified. If it were off-the-shelf, for instance, the back of this motherboard would have more ports.

With such little room in the system, AMD resorted to an external power brick for electricity. In power consumption, AMD officials say it ranges from 300 watts to 400 watts under heavier loads. For a dual-GPU box, that's not bad.

Dual Fiji inside

Project Quantum was created to showcase just what kind of crazy things you can do with Fiji. When AMD CEO Lisa Su surprised everyone by showing off the dual Fiji card at E3, she didn't mention the card she was showing was actually created just to power Project Quantum. 

The card uses two Fiji cores with 4GB of HBM RAM each on a single 9-inch PCB. Anandtech got a great shot of the board that shows a pair of 8-pin power connectors and a PCIe 3.0 PLX chip switch used to the share the single x16 PCIe connector. 

A dual Fiji card won't be available until later this year, but most likely its design will draw from the design of this card, which looks like it could get even shorter. Still, at nine inches, it's amazingly short for a dual-GPU board. AMD's previous Radeon R9 295 X2 was 12 inches long, and killjoys will point out that Nvidia's Titan Z was 10.5 inches.

Can you buy it?

AMD told me it built fewer than a dozen of the Project Quantum boxes to showcase its new cards. I'd be fine if just one partner tried to turn it into a product consumers can actually buy.

Unfortunately, it would be very expensive from the looks of it. Most of the semi-custom cases I've seen, such as the Deep Cool TriSteller case CyberPower uses in its Trinity Extreme, takes far less tooling and custom cooling--and even that will set you back at least $400 when it goes on sale this month.

 

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