With that background, perhaps you will understand why we were skeptical when AMD unveiled its plans for a new platform, code-named "4x4", just as Intel prepared processors based on its excellent new Core microarchitecture for release. The initial concept was about as extreme as they come, with the "4x4" signifying the combination of four CPU cores (in two sockets) and four GPUs in the same system. From the sound of it, these boxes would only come from boutique PC vendors like Alienware and Voodoo, and they would cost more than a reasonably well-equipped Honda Civic. We were underwhelmed by some of these constraints, especially the initial exclusivity to PC makers, and said so at the time.
Fortunately, AMD was listening. The 4x4 concept has undergone some moderation since it was first announced, and those constraints have been eased somewhat. What's left is a new enthusiast-oriented PC platform that officially sanctions what some of us have been doing since the days of the Celeron 300A: running multiple processors in an enthusiast-class system. (By "processor," of course, I mean one of things that you stick into a socket on a motherboard, not just another CPU core on a chip.) The first incarnations of "4x4", now known as the Quad FX platform, will deliver quad CPU cores into desktop systems starting today. You may be asking yourself a number of questions upon reading this news. Questions like: Yeah, but can it keep pace with Intel's mighty Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core processor? Why would I want one? What can you really do with four cores? Will Britney and K-Fed patch things up, or is it really over? Fear not, my friend, for we have the answers to three of those four questions. Read on to find them.