This week there was an AMD seminar in my neck of the woods.
I like going to these sort of things because you always end up with a free shirt or hat and if you're lucky, unlike me the last few times I've gone, you'll win a free motherboard or CPU in a drawing!
AMD seminars are different than Intel seminars in that there is not NDA. I think that AMD doesn't have you sign a non-disclosure agreement because they WANT the information from these seminars to leak! If they do, then people get all hyped up for AMD's future technologies.
I suppose that Intel is afraid that if we know too much about how THEIR future technologies are going, then we may not want to buy whatever technology they have to offer NOW. Whatever the case, the first 15 minutes of an Intel seminar is always a drag because they go over non disclosure, and whether or not I'm going to post the information I learn from these seminars or not, it's a real damper on the whole spirit of the get together.
This seminar was particularly cool because they confirmed all of the things that they promised in the last seminar and got our hopes up for more to come.
Fact is; AMD hasn't let us down at all. They promised a .18 micron copper die. We got it. They promised us full speed on die cache. We got it. They promised that there'd be a chipset that supported DDR, and ALi has come through with the ALi ALiMAGiK1. All we're waiting for is the motherboards with those chipsets.
AMD even informed us that VIA would have an SMP chipset that is capable of running two Socket A CPUs. These chipsets, known as the VIA KX266, should be available this fall. Of course, VIA has no problem introducing a new chipset to the motherboard manufacturers and no doubt will have no problem getting boards made with their chipset. As many of us know, the same Irongate chipset that many of us use for Slot A Athlons was perfectly capable of running the Socket A CPUs as well and was always available to motherboard manufacturers. Despite this, manufacturers still opted to use a VIA chipset instead and delay availability of their boards because of this so their Socket A boards would have the AGP 4X and PC133 RAM support that the Irongate didn't offer.
AMD, themselves, are promising the 760 chipset that will not only support DDR, but also SMP. Of course, we all heard about the 760 in the last seminar, but it only sounded like a pipedream. At this seminar, AMD got down to the nitty-gritty of the scalability of the 760 chipset, and I like what I heard!
Each 760 Northbridge will be able to run two CPUs, just as the VIA SMP Northbridge, but the 760 Northbridge can talk to other 760 Northbridges in the same system that can run two more CPUs, and so on. This allows a degree of multiprocessing that is truly intriguing. Imagine twelve Thunderbird processors on six AMD 760 Northbridges all running Win 2K in one system. SWEET!
Hmmm… Does that mean I can run six AGP cards????
Something that many people have wondered about the Athlon line is why they have never approached the concept of using a 133/266 MHz FSB. Actually, when Socket processors was just a glimmer in AMD's eye, AMD had thought about making their CPUs 133 bus once they got up in clock speed and with copper interconnects (you have to remember that AMD has been talking about using copper since the K6), just like the Intel CPUs. But in the long run, then they had a second thought.
As we've come to find out, It was inevitable that AMD go back to a socket and this would require either an entirely new chipset or backwards compatibility with an existing chipset. Of course, AMD opted for the latter. AMD used the tried and true Irongate to prototype the Socket A and since the Irongate is not capable of a 133 MHz FSB, the Socket A was introduced to the world on a 100 MHz platform. Furthermore, AMD wants to start using a 100 MHz DDR SDRAM (known as PC1600) since 133 MHz DDR SDRAM (known as PC2100) may be significantly more expensive. Besides, if you own a 1.1 GHz Thunderbird with a 100 MHz FSB now, wouldn't it be nice to use that same CPU in a DDR board later on this year?
Of course, AMD isn't completely stuck on the 100 MHz FSB. They claim that by the end of the year they will have 133 MHz FSB CPUs (which of course means 266 MHz in EV6 speak) that will run on a board that will support 133 MHz DDR SDRAM.
Talk about a fast PC! Multiprocessing 1.1 GHz CPUs with 133 MHz DDR SDRAM! Woo hoo!