Exclusive! Inside AMD’s wild Project Quantum PC

ITworld | Aug 25, 2015

Join us on Hardcore Hardware this week as we tear down AMD's intriguing Project Quantum prototype PC.

Everyone take a pottie break because I’m about to take you on a solar system exclusive look inside one of the craziest PC’s you’ve ever seen.

This is AMD’s Project Quantum. It’s a proof of concept, small form factor gaming rig that’s frickin’ awesome. Even better, we’re going to crack this PC wide open and see what makes it tick.

You’ve seen this card: AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X. One of the most powerful GPUs available today. Besides its factory water cooling, what really makes the Fury X special is a new kind of stupid fast RAM called High Bandwidth Memory.
Instead of a normal video card like this Radeon R9 290X that puts RAM around the GPU in a suburban sprawl, HBM stacks the memory straight up like the Manhattan skyline. That means you can compact the memory to make a tiny video card without sacrificing anything.

And that smaller videocard translates into smaller, more powerful computers like Project Quantum. AMD says HBM memory is so compact, it lets them jam up to two Fury X cards into Project Quantum—something it could never do with its conventional video cards.

Enough story about the cable guy coming over though, you want to cut straight to the action and see inside the Project Quantum. Now.

AMD is known for making CPUs and GPUs, but the company could also have a business in making insanely cool PCs too. Project Quantum’s chassis is made entirely out of machined aluminum.

The top contains a 180mm radiator and fan setup that sucks air in through the middle and blows it out the top. And dig this reservoir. You think you’re a bad-ass with your custom-water cooling? Well listen up, Timmy, anyone can buy a reservoir. You’re not a Jedi until you 3D print your own like AMD did.

The liquid moves through this center section to the bottom, which contains the actual computer hardware. Project Quantum can fit two Fury X cards, but the only unit I could get AMD to let me dissect was this single GPU box.

Once we get the lid off we’re inside. And guess what AMD FX CPU, fan boys: There’s no AMD FX CPU inside. It’s an Intel Haswell CPU powering Project Quantum.

The RAM, SSD and CPU are off the shelf, but there’s been some modifications to the motherboard here to make it work. The water blocks are also completely custom and milled out of copper for Project Quantum. Project Quantum is about as custom as you can get.

I know you’re asking, can I buy one? Today, no. This is a prototype proof of concept and AMD made maybe a dozen to show off Fury X and HBM’s capabilities. But AMD says it’s actively looking for someone who actually wants to take what it did with Project Quantum and turn it into a product.

It’s also no secret that Project Quantum is part of AMD’s plans to push virtual reality. So maybe, just maybe one day, when you go into the virtual reality theater of the future, under your seat will be sitting a Project Quantum box.