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AMD's 45nm Phenoms ride 'Dragon'

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AMD has unveiled a new gaming PC platform designed to provide "elite-level computing performance for under $900."

Dubbed "Dragon," AMD's chip-chipset-graphics combo is anchored by the struggling outfit's first 45nm desktop processor: the quad-core Phenom II X4. Both the chip and the Dragon made their official debut this morning at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Phenom II comes in two flavors: the 3GHz AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition and the 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 920. The Black Edition sells for $275, the un-Black Edition for $235. Both include 6MB of L3 cache, 2MB of L2 cache, and a memory controller that plays nicely with DDR2 and DDR3 memory.

In addition to the new 45nm chip, Dragon includes ATI Radeon HD 4800 graphics card and an AMD 7 series chipset. According to the company, HP, Dell, and Alienware will animate Dragon machines in the first quarter of 2009. Dell's Dragon-based XPS 625 desktop is already on sale for $1500 (without monitor).

AMD boasts that a Dragon consisting of a 2.8GHz Phenom II X4, an ATI Radeon HD 4870 with a GB of graphics memory, an AMD 790GX motherboard, and 4GB of DDR2-1066 memory can be had for under $900 - $1200 less than an Intel-based platform delivering comparable performance on a single benchmark test carefully chosen by AMD.

Dragon also includes several AMD-built software packages, including a handful of tools for optimizing performance and a media browser for juggling music, photos, movies, TV, and something called social media. In other words, this browser includes a built-in button that lets you upload photos directly to Facebook. ®

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