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The King of the Heap: 4 Chipsets for the Athlon64

HyperTransport: A Rising Star?

Since Ali licensed the AMD 8151, you might be led to believe that the only development work they did was to adapt the M1563 Southbridge to connect via HyperTransport. For proof that the development was more involved than a few tweaks, just take a look at the M1683 for the Pentium 4. Believe it or not, this Northbridge also has a HyperTransport interface that allows it to communicate with the Southbridge used on all the platforms.

Now that NVIDIA has also jumped on the HyperTransport bandwagon, we can imagine all kinds of possibilities. For example, wouldn't it be great if more components were shipped with HyperTransport interfaces? Picture a Northbridge from one vendor that is intercompatible with another manufacturer's Southbridge. That would suddenly render common platforms scalable. HyperTransport channels could be assigned whichever bandwidths and speeds they need.

On the other hand, with PCI Express lurking in the shadows,many pundits believe that HyperTransport will play a less important role in the future. Admittedly, PCI Express will soon become the dominant interface because it offers backwards PCI software compatibility and has mammoth performance reserves.

However, HyperTransport has already been proven to scale well in terms of costs and performance, especially when it is used to interface between processors and system components. ALi has demonstrated that HyperTransport can be used immediately without having to fear the consequences of any major growing pains.