One of the best times of my life was covering PCs when Pat Gelsinger was in charge of innovation at Intel. He would have an annual competition for designers to create amazing things that few could afford but we all could lust after. Today firms like Alienware do create uniquely designed products but up until now the chip makers just haven’t been that aggressive at pushing the boundaries. Well that just changed, AMD just announced Project Quantum and this is an amazing PC that sets the bar for future desktop PC designs. It’s small but it is also incredibly powerful and it represents a new system architecture that blends aggressive cooling with the coolest small design I’ve ever seen and the first PC designed from the ground up for Virtual Reality.
Let’s talk about why this is.
AMD’s CEO: Lisa Su
Part of the reason this exists is that AMD is run by someone who knows and loves technology and when a firm is run by someone that loves the subject matter they create great things. In Apple’s case it was Steve Job’s love for the product that allowed his firm to create amazing things that took that from almost going under to become the most powerful firm in the segment. For AMD it is creating things like Project Quantum and their new water cooled and amazing looking Radeon R9 Fury X Graphics Card.
Thinking back on Steve Jobs, one of his shortcomings was he wasn’t actually an engineer having dropped out of college. He once asked his folks to create a motherboard that was beautiful and his engineering staff went out of their way to show him it was impossible. If you look at the Project Quantum product it is basically rethinking the motherboard with beauty as a primary driver. AMD’s engineers effectively did what Steve Jobs engineers thought was impossible.
Building Something Amazing
If you look at the difference between the Chevy Volt and the Tesla car you see in the Volt a car that was partially built by bean counters and falls far short of what it could have been. With the Tesla it was built by Elon Musk a guy that loves cars and it is all that it can be. That is what it’s about to build something amazing. AMD isn’t going to sell a lot of Project Quantum boxes, they’ll simply bee to expensive, and Tesla’s sales volume will likely never beat GM’s but folks that own a Project Quantum or a Tesla will treasure their products far more than those that buy any other PC or a typical GM car (though that new Corvette sure could be an exception, but then Corvettes have always been built by GM car lovers).
I remember what Steve Jobs said to John Scully years ago about the difference between building for the future and selling sugar water. Most firms seem happy to build and sell products that do the job but don’t really excite and that makes for an incredibly boring world.
But every once in a while a firm like Apple, Tesla and now AMD steps up and builds something amazing and pushes the envelope in some key product area. Project Quantum is just such a product.
Wrapping Up: A Little Magic
When I first saw pictures of this PC I lusted after it and it’s been a long time since I’ve lusted after any desktop PC. Building something that is powerful, beautiful, and different takes a lot of guts and creates a bit of magic. Lisa Su and her team released something amazing this week and you should check it out.