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Intel and AMD: a new I/O race?

Ronald Hanaki
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Techweb reports on this development at Spring IDF:

In a keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum Thursday, Louis Burns, general manager of Intel’s Desktop Platforms Group, promised that the company would help develop a new I/O standard for the PC by this fall.

Intel’s new serial I/O architecture will be designed to work with processors up to 10-GHz, Burns said. The resulting I/O bandwidth is expected to be so great, it will surpass the ability of copper wiring to transfer the information. Later, the technology will shift to optical technologies, he said, and is expected to replace PCI, as PCI replaced the ISA bus.

“We’re looking for an I/O architecture that can last five or 10 years,” Burns said in a question-and-answer session following his speech. “HyperTransport, like Hub Link, offers some improvements over the PCI standard. But neither has legs to run the next-generation I/O bus.”

Burns promised to work cooperatively with the industry, to avoid repeating the 1999 conflict between the Next Generation I/O and Future I/O standards battle in the server space, which pitted Intel’s OEM customers against itself and was essentially settled when the two standards merged into InfiniBand.

Clearly, Intel is threatened by AMD’s HyperTransport (codename LDT: Lightning Data Transport) technology which has even found its way inside Microsoft’s Xbox chipset (South Bridge) but their point is valid; as microprocessors get faster and faster, computers will need larger and wider bandwidths to attain optimum performance. Parallel buses faster than 1GHz may be too costly at this time, so some kind of point-to-point serial bus that is scalable to 10GHz is likely (sounds like HyperTransport?). In ten years when speeds beyond 12GHz are reached, Intel is looking to a fiber optic standard; meanwhile, Intel has some time to work out a new spec, perhaps to be revealed at the next IDF in August.

Here are various screenshots of Intel’s slides and products shown at IDF courtesy of ASCII24:

For another perspective, read C|Net’s coverage here.

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