AMD processor goes to extremes, gets Guinness World Record

An AMD-assembled team of overclocking mad scientists ran the FX CPU up to 8.429 GHz, while cooling it with liquid helium. What does it mean for the average user?

AMD has overtaken Intel in the race to produce the world’s fastest processor after an eight-core AMD FX CPU achieved a Guinness World Record 8.429 GHz in an extreme overclocking test.

The company assembled a team of “elite overclocking specialists” to work with AMD technologists on the test, and set the record (officially, the “Highest Frequency of a Computer Processor") Aug. 31 in Austin, Texas, according to a release from the company.

The FX, built on AMD’s Bulldozer architecture, surpassed the previous record of 8.308 GHz, set by an Intel Cedar Mill chip Aug. 12.

What does this mean for the average PC user? The FX, scheduled to be released later this year, will be used in AMD’s Accelerated Processing Units and will support extreme multi-display gaming, mega-tasking and HD content creation, the company said. It’s also likely that it means processors will be getting faster overall.

But for immediate effect, it’s about as relevant to your laptop or PC as those turbojet-powered land rockets doing 700 mph in the Black Rock Desert are to your Toyota. As a video from the company shows, the type of test they put the FX through isn’t something you want to try at home.

Overclocking, the practice of running a CPU faster than its rated speed, may be common enough among hard-core computer folks, but it does pose risks to the system. And extreme overclocking, in the wrong hands, has even been known to blow up a CPU.

AMD’s test was conducted carefully, with the chip being cooled successively by air, water, liquid nitrogen and liquid helium as the team steadily increased the chip’s speed.

The eight-core FX, which is expected to be rated at about 4.2 GHz when released, hit 5 GHz while being air-cooled, and 6 GHz with water cooling.` It reached 8 GHz with liquid nitrogen, then, with liquid helium cooling it and raising a large plume of steam, the FX reached its final speed of 8.429 GHz. (Liquid nitrogen cools the processor to about minus 190 degrees Celsius; liquid helium to between minus 200 and minus 230 degrees C. That should give you an idea of how hot a processor can get with extreme overclocking.)

The success of the FX was significant because it hasn’t been released yet, writes Brad Bidinger of the Overclockers website, who attended the test and includes a number of photos and videos with his report. A processor’s overclocking speeds tend to increase once they’re become familiar to the people who do this kind of thing — the Cedar Mill chip used in Intel’s former record was about five years old — so Bidinger expects 8.5 GHz to be achieved before long.

But unless you keep a ready supply of liquid helium handy, don’t expect that kind of performance on your desktop.

 

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