Hammer, Hammer everywhere

COMPUTEX — AMD is the only company demo'ing working K8 systems on the show floor here, and even their demos are a little weak. (Yep, it's a computer running Windows. Uh huh.) But all of the mobo makers have K8 motherboards hanging up on their display walls, more or less as a statement of direction and support for AMD. The Hammer chip in the socket looks like so:

AMD's K8 chip—or at least a mock-up—rests in a prototype mobo
The K8 motherboards here have chipsets from VIA, AMD, NVIDIA, and SiS, so support for this fairly radical new platform looks strong.

For the uninitiated, the K8 platform uses high-speed, unidirectional HyperTransport links in place of traditional parallel communcation, and the K8 chips incorporate their own DDR memory controllers. Internal communcation is more like a network than a traditional PC, so instead of a north bridge, you get an AGP sitting on the other end of a HyperTransport link. Data is sent to the AGP chip using a "tunnel"—a VPN, more or less. AMD showed off an AGP 8X graphics card (SiS Xabre) running on an AMD Graphics Tunnel chip in AGP 8X mode here today.

If it all works right and well, the K8 should be extremely fast, especially in multiprocessor configs. Once it arrives.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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