August 19, 2008
Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) doesn't want Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) to even the score in platform technology too quickly. With Intel on the cusp of closing a significant and long-standing memory bandwidth gap, the AMD-led HyperTransport consortium just announced a much faster HT specification. Tit for tat, amigo.
Version 3.1 of the HT specification raises the system bandwidth bar by 23% over the current 3.0 standard, but the biggest improvement comes in a new connector format. The HTX3 motherboard connector spec more than triples the total bandwidth of the old 2.0 release, taking clock speeds from 800MHz to 2.6 GHz in one giant leap. System designers also get more flexibility in how they want to divide up that data stream into several lower-speed interfaces.
Rather than boring you with gigatransfers, x16 links, and other technical mumbo jumbo, let me just tell you that this is a serious upgrade for HyperTransport-based systems. It's an instant boost for desktops and laptops built around these next-generation components, but even more of a boon to enterprise-class servers and supercomputers. Cray (Nasdaq: CRAY ) will absolutely love these high-speed information channels, IBM (NYSE: IBM ) will probably build Blue Gene systems this way, and Big Blue, Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA ) , and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) can boast of multiprocessor servers that make better use of all that tasty hardware they pack into their boxes.
The beat goes on, a jab here and an uppercut there. Never assume that AMD will wait around to eat Intel's dust -- or the other way around. And that's how great rivalries are made.