AMD announced today a new program designed to boost sales of mainstream PCs for gaming. The AMD Game logos will appear on AMD-based desktops and notebooks that meet the system requirements to run nearly all of the latest games.
Of the 263 million PC gamers worldwide, only 13 million are the hard-core gamers, according to the PC Gaming Alliance. These are the users AMD and Nvidia battle over. Another 197 million are casual gamers (think Solitaire) who can use any old PC. But there's about 50 million somewhere in the middle who like to play more demanding PC games. The goal of AMD Game is to make the experience as easy as it is on a console or, as Godfrey Cheng, AMD's Director of Marketing, Platform Technologies, puts it, "We want to be sure that when 'Joe Six-Pack' walks into Wal-Mart and picks up a copy of Deer Hunter Tournament, it'll play on his PC."
There are two levels: AMD Game includes systems with an Athlon X2 5600+ processor, 2GB of memory, Radeon HD 3650 graphics, and an AMD 770 or Nvidia nForce 500 series chipset or better. AMD Game Ultra requires a minimum of a Phenom X4 9650, 2GB of memory, a Radeon HD 3870, and an AMD 770 chipset.
AMD says many systems costing $1,000 to $2,000 will meet these requirements and be capable of playing a list of top-selling games in four different genres at 30 frames per second (see the slide below) or better. You can configure an Alienware Aurora desktop that meets the Game Ultra requirements for about $1,350. The complete list of tested configurations is here. AMD has also tested many other system components, including motherboards, power supplies and input devices, to ensure that they will support AMD Game systems and are compatible with the most popular games.
AMD doesn't currently offer a CPU that can match the fastest Intel chips (or arguably a single GPU that can match the Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX), which is one of the reasons it has been preaching a "balanced platform" approach. AMD's CPU-GPU platform does offer a lot of performance for the price, and AMD's Game initiative is a logical extension of the balanced platform push. But whether it will succeed in getting the word out to a group that is difficult to market to--or meet the fate of logo programs such as AMD Live and Intel Viiv--remains to be seen.