In the future, AMD would like to withdraw from the development of its own chipsets in the enterprise workstation/desktop segment. As with the first Athlon (Slot A) the manufacturer thinks it has done its time here, because the Opteron has proven its mettle many times over. In the case of the very first Athlon, the switch to Socket A worked well, because within months ALi, NVIDIA, SiS and VIA were offering suitable chipsets - and still do today.
In the workstation segment, AMD is putting its hopes on NVIDIA, because the nForce 4, successor to the nForce 3, shouldn't just be fast and well-equipped but also have two independent PCI Express interfaces in the top version, which will support the introduction of SLI solutions with two graphics cards. With graphics workstations in particular this step should allow for a decent increase in performance.
Manufacturers are reckoning on getting the first sample of suitable boards even before the year is out, and in comparison to earlier chipset launches, the mood is good. Tyan, for example, will extend its involvement in the Opteron area and hopes to add a quad CPU workstation based on the Opteron to its lineup soon.
Dual Core, Baby!
Probably the best news of the summer, however, involves the option of easily replacing the Opteron processors currently in use with future dual-core models as they appear. AMD admits that in the case of dual-core Opterons there are performance losses of about 10% compared to single-core dual systems, because the main memory of other CPUs has to be accessed more often. However, the possible increase in performance compared to earlier processor upgrades is apparently unprecedented.
This also means that AMD will initially not convert to DDR2 memory, or at least only with a few CPUs. While we think it is unlikely that dual-core Opterons will be designed exclusively for DDR400, a DDR2 version could follow in due time.
The memory controller integrated into all AMD64 processors demands, above all, low latency times to work as fast as possible. Here a DDR2 memory only makes sense if the increased bandwidth offsets the disadvantage of longer latency times with faster clock rates - which we think will only happen with DDR2-800.