AMD's Small Form Factor Project Quantum PC Is a Dual Fiji Powerhouse [Updated]

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, dual fiji, amd

AMD revealed a new liquid cooled small form factor PC called Project Quantum during an E3 livestream today.

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On the outside, an angled dual compartment aluminum case with rounded edges houses the processing hardware in the bottom and all the cooling components in the top part. AMD is using liquid cooling for the processor and graphics with the tubing running up the center column joining the two pieces together to a radiator or radiators. Red LEDs light up the center column while Radeon R9 branding sits in the bottom left corner. 

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While at first glance that Radeon R9 branding might be unassuming, it is actually referring to AMD's latest Fiji architecture. That's correct, Project Quantum is part of the Fiji product family and is, in fact, powered by two AMD Fiji-based graphics procesors!

Update: AMD has posted a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Project Quantum which you can watch below.

In the video, AMD reveals that they are using a modified ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard (thanks to djotter in the comments for pointing that out) which means that Project Quantum is using an Intel Haswell processor in addition to the two Fiji-based GPUs. AMD has removed all of the rear IO connectors save two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. They have also moved the 8-pin CPU power connector to the back panel of the board next to the USB ports. My guess is that they did this for cable management and height restriction reasons within the bottom compartment. Specifically, from the CAD render shown in the video, it appears that the AMD graphics card sits horizontally on top of the motherboard which meant that at least some of the rear IO ports had to be removed or relocated.

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Another bit of information from that AMD video is that Project Quantum is using what looks like an external power supply. The power brick connects to the system over a single cable to an internal board. This board provides power to a Pico PSU that is plugged into the ATX 24-pin connector on the motherboard and provides power to the AMD branded Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as the motherboard and CPU 8-pin connectors (which have both been modified to right angles for height and cable management reasons). The internal power board that connects to the socket at the back likely also powers the Radeon graphics card via PCI-E connectors, but it is difficult to tell from the photo (it is that red PCB towards the top of the photo).

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Interestingly AMD has switched out the power and USB 3.0 headers with right angle models and removed the blue ASRock heatsinks covering the VRMs and PCH. AMD is instead using two large waterblocks to cool the components on the motherboard and graphics card. A large radiator and pump sit in the top compartment cooled by an 180mm Enermax Apollish fan. The 180mm radiator should result in quieter, or at least less annoying, fan noise since the large fan can spin slower while moving similar amounts of air as smaller fans paired with 120 or 140mm radiators. Using a single large radiator for both the CPU and GPU is an interesting choice here, and I think a correct one.

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A rendering of the water loop layout on Project Quantum. Image from AMD with annotations by Aibohphobia.

It was actually djotter and Aibohphobia in the comments who spotted the Pico PSU and provided an example. (I did not notice that in the video initially, so thanks for pointing that out!)  This power brick and tiny Pico PSU setup would certainly help to explain how AMD was able to make Project Quantum so thin (though an external PSU isn't necessarily a bad thing). The Pico PSU does suggest that the dual Fiji GPUs may be closer to lower end R9 Nanos than two high end Fury Xs (heh) or maybe some other yet unannounced cut-down Fiji chip entirely.

(End of update)

Update 9:30PM:

During the PC Gamer E3 Twitch stream, AMD CEO Lisa Su showed off Project Quantum, and Ken was able to snap a photo of the back panel.

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Project Quantum has, from left to right, a single power input (see above), two analog audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, four USB 2.0 ports, and a single horizontal PCI slot. A Radeon R9 graphics card is installed in this slot and features three DisplayPort and one HDMI 1.4 video outputs. We still do not know all the specs of this card, but is is Fiji-based and supports LiquidVR along with AMD's other features including FreeSync and Frame Rate Target Control.

(End Update 9:30PM)

Beyond that, we do not know many details on Project Quantum. From the other announcements around Fiji today, particularly the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X, this little machine is going to be a powerhouse with impressive power efficiency and performance per watt – especially for its size!

Of course, pricing and availability were not discussed at the event. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as we get more details closer to its official release!

Source: AMD

Video News


June 16, 2015 | 02:05 PM - Posted by vailr

Sort of makes one wonder, how much input AMD had with the design of the most recent cylindrical MacPro; the one with dual AMD workstation class video cards.

June 16, 2015 | 02:15 PM - Posted by Heavy (not verified)

this look way better then the mac trash can i personaly like the space between the two main comparments but they could of still made it look better

June 16, 2015 | 04:09 PM - Posted by Vickitor

Better than. =) I agree.

June 16, 2015 | 02:15 PM - Posted by Heavy (not verified)

this look way better then the mac trash can i personaly like the space between the two main comparments but they could of still made it look better

June 16, 2015 | 02:33 PM - Posted by dreamer77dd

The new Steam box? Or is it Microsoft's new console or Nintendo's?
Why would AMD make a computer case/box?
For who is it for?
Are they planning to be the new Steam Box?
They are not selling it to the research and science market,like Nvidia did?
They will have more announcements later I think.

June 16, 2015 | 06:10 PM - Posted by Simms (not verified)

Proof of concept to sell Apple on the new Mac Pro

June 16, 2015 | 02:38 PM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

Looks good, too bad they didn't go full-on base star with it. ;)

Also, this better come with an Intel CPU.

June 16, 2015 | 05:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

athlon 5350

June 16, 2015 | 09:28 PM - Posted by biohazard918

The prototype uses a z97 board so yeah its intel based.

June 16, 2015 | 02:58 PM - Posted by funandjam

It's a pretty neat product for sure, going to be awesome for any game out there now. But judging from the form factor, neither the CPU or the GPU is upgradeable, which would be a shame if true.

June 16, 2015 | 07:06 PM - Posted by iFreilicht (not verified)

I looked at the brief moments where the CAD model is visible in the video posted below. The mainboard is a modified X99E-ITX/ac, so the CPU will be upgradable. The GPU will probably be the R9 Fury or R9 Fury Dual-GPU, but still in the regular PCIe expansion card format. So if you wanted to upgrade the GPU, it would have to have the exact same mounting cooler mounting holes. Depending on the final design, it might also need single-slot I/O. But in theory, both are upgradeable.

June 16, 2015 | 03:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RdISWkIUmM

June 16, 2015 | 04:16 PM - Posted by funandjam

Thanks for sharing, now I know at least the CPU is upgradeable. And judging by a screen cap, it looks like that is an intel mounting. Very interesting indeed, now that we have seen this makes me wonder if they will indeed have an upgrade path for future cards in this Quantum box.

June 16, 2015 | 04:39 PM - Posted by dreamer77dd

Anonymous person.
I wish you said it was a break down video from AMD about AMD Small Form Factor Project Quantum PC.
I thought it was Spam.
Thank you for the link.
Looks like a test bed.

June 16, 2015 | 05:07 PM - Posted by djotter

Thanks for the link. The motherboard is a ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac with it's 8pin power converted to a 90 degree connector and the rear connectors stripped off.

June 16, 2015 | 06:33 PM - Posted by Aibohphobia

It definitely is, how crazy:

http://i.imgur.com/fAS9j2f.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/pr1k08r.jpg

June 16, 2015 | 07:37 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Thanks for the link!

June 16, 2015 | 08:41 PM - Posted by djotter

Hi Tim, you say "which would explain the 8-pin power connector being relocated" it hasn't been relocated, just converted 90 degrees. The 8 pin connector on that Asrock board is already in that position. In the video and Aibohphobias pics you can see what looks like a Pico PSU next to the 24 pin connector, like this http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-160-XT but, again, turned 90 degrees.

June 16, 2015 | 08:48 PM - Posted by Aibohphobia

I wonder if the ethernet port is also desoldered at a later stage. Seems silly to go to the trouble of soldering on a right-angle 8-pin power connector but have that tall bit of rear IO still there.

June 16, 2015 | 08:50 PM - Posted by djotter

So then the external power box would only have to send a 12V line across which would be split to a line for the Pico PSU, 8-pin and PCI-Express power cables.

June 16, 2015 | 09:33 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Ohh, wow totally missed that adapter off of the ATX 24-pin until you pointed it out! I understand what you are saying now, and will update the article accordingly. Thank you for the second pc perspective (yeah, I'll leave the puns to Scott heh).

June 16, 2015 | 09:55 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

I've updated the article, thanks for the sanity check guys! I'm guessing these dual graphics chips are fairly cut-down Fiji and not a Fury X2 or whatever AMD ends up calling its dual Fury X card ;) or AMD has put together one beefy Pico PSU!

June 16, 2015 | 11:39 PM - Posted by Aibohphobia

The PicoPSU isn't powering everything, just the motherboard. There's a separate power board that connects to the power socket on the rear of the case that probably has the connector for the GPU: http://i.imgur.com/g0DYFrt.jpg

Also, you can see here that the water blocks are sandwiched by the GPU and motherboard: http://i.imgur.com/ggSdYca.jpg

Interestingly the motherboard and GPU are backwards, the GPU connectors are facing rearward as normal but the motherboard IO is facing forward.

Also, the fan is an Enermax Apollish 180mm: http://i.imgur.com/tSjIN66.jpg

Which also explains the red LEDs, those things are bright :p

Also means we're looking at a 180mm rad, though I don't recognize the one they're using.

And finally, going off that picture of the back, here's my estimated dimensions of the unit: http://i.imgur.com/pfC6xkq.jpg

Plenty of room in that box for a 180mm ATX PSU.

June 17, 2015 | 01:09 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Heh interesting, thanks. So the external supply is doing the AC->DC to this internal board that is then breaking it up two power the Pico PSU which is powering the mobo + cpu + SATA (that black connector looks like SATA to me) and seperately the graphics card. I tried looking up some videos of Pico PSUs and I believe that two wire connector coming off it on the right is the power input for the Pico PSU and connects to the red power board. At first I was thinking the Pico PSU was going to go molex -> PCI-E but all I can find is 160W and under Pico PSUs so I don't think that's happening ;). You must be right that the other board is powering the GPU, maybe from the molex coming off of it? There is also a white connector on the right of the red board but that may be going to the Pico PSU and isnt a PCI-E connector... I can't tell when zooming in :/.

Yup, you're right, the GPU is flipped so the outputs are upright but the mobo I/O is upside down.

EDIT: I think the redered image just isn't showing all the motherboard. If that's the case, then it makes sense that the mobo is flipped over and the CPU and GPU blocks are next to each other and the CPU is facing down. I was confused because it looked like the CPU block was sitting higher than the I/O and such like the mobo was under it but I guess it was just the angle and me not being sure the mobo was just not shown fully to reveal what was underneath or not. Annnyway, I need to get to bed, i have to be up early. 

June 16, 2015 | 10:08 PM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

An AMD branded PC with an Intel CPU? WTF?

June 17, 2015 | 12:06 AM - Posted by Titan_V (not verified)

Likely replaced with Zen once it arrives.

June 17, 2015 | 12:48 AM - Posted by Hakuren

One thing which annoys me about this little PC is that they just couldn't pick different color. AMD is red so it's logical, but also fact is that red is most annoying and intrusive color on human eyes. I just cannot imagine sitting next to/front of it. Looks nice, but without RGB lighting no go for me. (It would be actually quite funny to see it green... least annoying color *wink*)

June 17, 2015 | 01:03 AM - Posted by OpticsGuy (not verified)

Red is actually one of the best colors for the human eye.

Blue light is known to damage the retina, and it's also the most out of focus color for human vision, because the center of the human retina has NO blue cone cells in it. It only contains red and green cones. The blue cones surround the fovea centralis.

This is why using blue instruments in vehicles or electronics is particularly stupid as well.

Blue light is also terrible for low light vision, by both damaging the retina and causing the retina to bleach, reducing your ability to see in the dark. Keep in mind that the damage occurs when you have blue light without a significant amount of longer wavelengths with it. A blue sky won't damage your eyes, even though it's bright outside, but a bunch of blue LEDs in a dark room will.

So basically, if you want lighting on a PC, red is the PERFECT color.

June 17, 2015 | 01:30 AM - Posted by NamelessTed

That external PSU looks huge compared to the system. Why wouldn't they try to use all that empty space or make it just slightly bigger to house a psu internally? And take a look at the proprietary connector.

I can appreciate what they are trying to do, I have wanted to see powerful small computers like "steamboxes" for years and its nice to see it if finally becoming the fashionable trend. But this just seems like such a massive failure.

June 17, 2015 | 01:33 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Well, I suppose ideally you would be able to hide the power brick away. It does seem like they could have put an internal PSU in the left side (when looking at it from the back) as there is room over there but it might have to be a custom job and would just be one more internal component they'd have to cool.

June 17, 2015 | 10:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

not if the cord is long enough.... then it's just a power brick off behind some furniture

June 17, 2015 | 04:30 AM - Posted by Corb (not verified)

This system use only one GPU or two chips? On video i see only one Fiji.

June 17, 2015 | 10:33 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

AMD did not specify the card but now that they have announced the fury x2 (Lisa Su showed the bare card off at the PC Gamer PC Gaming Show during E3) we know that they have at least one dual gpu fiji graphics card though it might not be two full fiji gpus on a single board...

June 17, 2015 | 02:21 PM - Posted by anuk

At least someone shown a new console at E3...

..just kiding. Definitely the mod award goes to AMD.

June 18, 2015 | 01:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

http://www.guru3d.com/news-story/amd-radeon-fury-x-doesnt-have-hdmi-2-su...

AMD Radeon Fury X doesn't have HDMI 2.0 support

June 23, 2015 | 05:33 PM - Posted by Grimmy

If it wasn't for the space between hw and cooling they could have made a mini-itx gaming PC smaller than an xbox one or ps4

Aibohphobia's estimated dimensions of the unit
http://i.imgur.com/pfC6xkq.jpg
console sizes
http://www.psmania.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/size23.jpg

That is some incredible engineering.
But still don't understand why they removed most of all the connectors on the m-board.
Dream size gaming pc for me
I want it

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