A "4x4" sticker is just like a SLI sticker: it's a differentiation that devalues the competition. -- Sharikou
Some people say that AMD 4x4 is a stopgap solution. Such a view is naively wrong.
From 2002 to 2005, PC performance gained very little. The Pentium 4 reached 3GHZ in 2002, at the end of 2004, it was about 3.6GHZ. There was only 20% improvement in two years. AMD's Athlon 64 did outperform the P4, but the margin was not huge, around 10-30%. Then in 2005, AMD introduced dual core technology, system performance almost doubled overnight.
Today, personal computing is in a new era. CPU core improvement is still important for incremental gains, but from now on, performance jumps will come primarily from increasing the number of computing engines. Multiple cores is the answer for the future.
You never get enough performance. On the graphics front, we have moved from dual graphics cards to quad graphics cards. On storage, we have multiple hard drives forming RAID to increase speed and reliability. On memory, we have dual channels to increase bandwidth. The theme is clear, more is faster. But strangely, so far, we have only one CPU inside a typical PC.
To fully utilize the computing power of multiple cores across multiple CPUs, you must have an inter-core, inter-processor, core-memory and core-I/O communication platform to deliver the compute cycles to the outside world. This is distributed computing. AMD's Direct Connect Architecture, with its crossbars, cache coherent hyper transport, integrated memory controller and hypertransport, is the most elegant communications platform exists today.
AMD 4x4 utilizes the glueless ccNUMA capability of the AMD64 on the desktop. AMD 4x4 doubles the compute engines on desktop. With two dual channel memory controllers and double HyperTransport links, 4x4 doubles memroy bandwidth to 25.6GB/s and I/O bandwidth to 16GB/s. 4x4 also allows one to have 8 slots for non-registered DDR2. 4x4 almost doubles system performance with the efficiency of the Direct Connect Architecture. As both AMD and Intel are expected to be closely matched in multi-core CPU development, 4x4 is a long term solution to pin Intel at 50% of AMD's performance on the desktop. As we move to quadcore or octal core, the same 2x multiplier on the 4x4 platform will set Intel back 50% yet again and again.
The concept of 4x4 isn't limited to two CPU sockets. One can have 4 graphics cards, why not four CPU sockets if needed? Also, one of the socket may be used for Torrenza cards.
Now, what about Conroe? Conroe is merely an improvement on the execution engine. It sits on the same communication platform: the shared FSB. Back in 2003, Intel was talking about 10.2GHZ Pentium 4 by 2005
. According to Intel, Conroe will be a 40% improvement over Pentium XE. Intel is clearly behind schedule on their performance goal. Intel's FSB based approach is not scalable and doesn't represent a challenge to AMD64. Eventually, Intel will have to follow AMD and create a communications infrastructure to deliver the compute cycles. Just like what Nvidia's SLI did to ATI, AMD 4x4 will force Intel to react. A 4x4 sticker is just like a SLI sticker: it devalues the competition.
AMD 4x4 will deliver an equivalent of 18 GHZ Pentium 4 cycles with an efficiency factor of 90%. It will more than double that with the K8L quadcore. Now, that's compelling.
In 2Q07, the K8L
will be out. AMD is expected to widen its lead at single core level. Coupled with 4x4, that will be 3x peformance lead over Intel. Conroe will have to be scrapped and redone. Its shelf life is no longer than that of a banana. AMD 4x4 will continue for the forseeable future, at least two to three years.
Now tell me, which is a stopgap measure? 4x4 or Conroe?