3.2 GHz Athlon Power: Dual Boards From ASUS and MSI

Summary: Dualie Has Its Benefits, And Not

An abstract analysis looks like this: more is not less - but it is not always better. Anyone who wants one of the boards that we tested for switching over to two CPUs later should save their money instead. Even the argument that dual boards can create a powerful graphics or CAD workstation is not very convincing.

In the end, even professional CAD/CAE/CAM applications do not permanently access two CPUs. The reason is that multiprocessor support is a far cry from consistent, balanced utilization of both CPUs. And that brings us once again to the beginning of our discussion.

For AMD, the MPX chipset is one more advance into the professional marketplace, a feat that is anything but simple. In the end user sector, a dual board for AMD Athlon is only going to be attractive to enthusiasts and people who work with animation and rendering programs. In fact, anyone who regularly runs several applications in Windows 2000 or XP at the same time may also benefit from two processors.

Looking back on the history of the past five years, we see that Intel tried to establish its dual platforms on the market with Pentium II/III - but without a huge amount of success. For AMD, this second Dual CPU platform is more of a niche within the niche, but nothing more.

Software support is a sore point in dual CPU operation. Very few applications work perfectly with two processors. What good is the best dual platform if the software isn't there to take full advantage of it? Lightwave from Newtek offers a convincing example of this: on average, a single Pentium 4 is just as fast in this application as a dual Athlon system. The reason is that Intel has had the software optimized for the Pentium 4. So, if you want to take a leap into the dualie world, give it a try, but be aware of the limitations and software issues involved. If you are already a committed dualie then, you'll no doubt welcome AMD's new developments in this segment of the marketplace because, you can never have enough performance.