Not quite as flashy as the "trip into space" prize, and perhaps a bit more geeky, the prize for solving the meta-puzzle in the Vanishing Point Game was an opportunity to engrave whatever message the winner chose onto a limited-run of 1,000 Athlon 64 FX CPUs, produced by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). AMD is one of the world's largest manufacturers of the core processing chips that power PCs.
The meta-puzzle challenge was to guess the "true identity" of the Microsoft employee known only as Loki, who turned out to be four "sisters" with names whose initials spelled out the "puzzlemaster's" alias. Audrey Murphy was the first to submit the winning answer and receive the meta-prize. She decided to have the chips engraved with the phrase, "Audrey & Ryan. Thanks Neowin and Unfiction!"
The Neowin and Unfiction communities were two of the largest and most avid followers of the Vanishing Point Game, a large-scale puzzle competition with over $500,000 in prizes and real-life events worldwide, co-sponsored by Microsoft and AMD to promote the then-upcoming release of the Windows Vista operating system, as well as AMD's microprocessors. In the presentation ceremony where she received a framed version of the special chip, a video of which is available from GearLive, Audrey said that she couldn't have solved all of the puzzles without the help of the communities, and that she wanted to recognize their assistance by including them in the engraving.
We contacted a representative of AMD to inquire as to whether we could get our hands on one of the limited-edition processors. Teresa DeOnis, a brand manager for AMD, said, "Yes, the 1000 processors will be made available for sale to the public in PIB (Processor-in-a-Box) in the Q2 [Spring 2007] timeframe." Unfortunately, she wasn't yet able to provide information on which distribution channels would be used, so we'll just have to keep an eye on AMD's site come April.