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Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the engineers-rampant-on-a-field-azure dept.

Intel 185

vivin writes "The Inquirer is reporting that Intel has opened up its FSB. Intel did this during IDF 07. What this means is that you can plug non-Intel things into the Intel CPU socket. The article says 'This shows that Intel is willing to take AMD seriously as a competitive threat, and is prepared to act upon it. In addition to this breaking one of the most sacred taboos at Intel, it also hints that engineering now has the upper hand over bureaucracy.'"

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Not the first time (5, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18852915)

This isn't the first time socket sharing has occured

The old Socket 7 [wikipedia.org] used to fit Intel and AMD and Cyrix.
Hell, it can even house socket 5 cpus!

Back then it wasn't a big deal to upgrade a CPU.

All the companies started changing sockets at a frantic pace and made a simple CPU update essentially mean a whole machine.

A new motherboard for the new socket but it also has new memory footprint as well so that gets replaced, and the PCIx slot won't fit my agp card.

Re:Not the first time (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853133)

It's actually still one of the things that's keeping me from upgrading.

I'd like more memory, but that would mean a new motherboard (it currently has all the memory installed it can take). Since I don't want to upgrade my CPU yet, it means buying a motherboard that won't let me upgrade my CPU if I want to in a few years.

Re:Not the first time (4, Informative)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853175)

This isn't the first time socket sharing has occured

IIRC, the socket-7 issue was not that Intel *wanted* others to use the technology, but rather that their license agreements with various other manufacturers allowed the rest of the industry to use it.

The only reason that Intel is opening up their FSB this time around is because they will be forced to use HyperTransport [zdnet.com] if they *don't* open it up (a royalty-free deal, to boot).

Their already using AMD64 and with AMD's new processors showing promise, Intel are really scratching and clawing here. I don't have the knowledge to pick a bus based on merit but, from what I've read, Hypertransport is better. Can anyone with experience here chime in?

Do we want Hypertransport or Intel's bus? What about licensing?

Re:Not the first time (1)

audi100quattro (869429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853909)

HyperTransport is atleast twice as fast if I can read correctly, and there are many FPGA co-processor boards out already for it. Why would you use something slower when there is something faster already available and supported when both will end up costing the same?

Re:Not the first time (2, Insightful)

berwiki (989827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853955)

Not to be a troll or anything, but the article you referenced is 6 years old.
I hope Intel moves a little quicker than that.

Re:Not the first time (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855211)

I don't think the date of that article matters much. Since that article was written, HT has been sped up, more companies have signed on, and some neat things like the HTX slot have been created. None of those make the article less relevant.

On a different note, the Inq article mentions that "it is one of the 'thou shalt nots' of the Intel competition manual, how it forced AMD to make their own bus." I think history has shown that AMD will always end up with a better bus. For the athlon, they used the aplha ev6 bus, and then they went and made HyperTransport. Perhaps Intel has realized that putting together a good bus architecture isn't hard.

Re:Not the first time (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855327)

By Charlie Demerjian in Beijing: Tuesday 17 April 2007, 05:39


That is the date that I am seeing when clicking on the link

Re:Not the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18854327)

You probably already know this, but their != they're. Have a nice day.

Not Invented Here!!!! (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854803)

The day Intel adopts Hypertransport is the day I move to Antarctica.

Cheers

Re:Not the first time (5, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854999)

I don't have the knowledge to pick a bus based on merit but, from what I've read, Hypertransport is better. Can anyone with experience here chime in?

Do we want Hypertransport or Intel's bus? What about licensing?


HT can run with approximately twice the number of transfers per second per pin as current-generation Intel FSBs. HT is also more readily expandible to use more pins, because it's an autonegotiating variable-width bus, similar to PCI-express. It also wastes fewer pins on control signals. HT is clearly the best, technologically.

Licensing wise, HT is licensed "royalty-free" for an annual fee. I don't believe the fee is particularly large. Many chip producers have already licensed it and will license modules to connect your own chip design to it for very small fees. Such modules exist on some modern FPGAs. This is not currently true of the Intel FSB spec.

Re:Not the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18855247)

Have you been living in a cave for the last 5 years?

Intel will introduce a new point-to-point system architecture with integrated memory controllers and routers in 2008.

Re:Not the first time (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854477)

I can't see AMD benefiting much from this. Their processors are too different electrically. AMD has an integrated memory controller on the processor, and Intel puts that in the chipset. AMD would have to completely start from scratch with a new CPU to make anything of this. I'm not saying they won't try but it would just stretch their resources much thinner.

Re:Not the first time (1)

jsoderba (105512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854615)

Intel is finally getting an on-chip memory controller with Nehalem [tgdaily.com] . Nehalem will succeed the Core 2 chip family towards the end of 2008. Nehalem follows the Penrym 45nm shrink under Intel's new achitecture->die shrink->new architecture cycle.

Re:Not the first time (1)

jsoderba (105512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854681)

This has actually changed a bit. Core 2 runs on the same LGA775 socket as the late model Pentium 4/D. AMD's AM2+ and AM3 chips will run in the AM2 socket, but you miss out on the new features in the newer sockets: better power management in AM2+, DDR3 memory in AM3 (AM3 processors have both DDR2 and DDR3 controllers integrated).

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18852917)

first post?

Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus (0, Offtopic)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18852933)

Wow, that is pretty cool. I wonder what actual AMD chips can plug into it? The article doesn't seem too specific or if there are any details at all. BTW lame bus related joke: Did you hear about the magic bus? It went along the road, then turned into a side street.

Re: Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus (4, Insightful)

Bwian_of_Nazareth (827437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853023)

There are no AMD chips that you could plug into it. It is not that Intel created a socket/bus that can take AMD chips. The news is that they opened it so that their competitors can develop chips for their socket/bus if they would desire to do so. So in the future we may see AMD chips that will fit into Intel FSB, but I doubt that will happen in the near future.

Re: Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853219)

Or maybe just a "genderbender" socket replacement type thing - put a new socket in your existing mobo socket, put a CPU in the new socket.

Re: Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus (1)

audi100quattro (869429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853771)

Didn't Asus or somebody have one those for a P4 socket which let you put in a Pentium M (If my memory recalls)? So the P4 socket was open to Asus for some reason? This is definitely competing with AMD, in the HPC market where the HyperTransport [hypertransport.org] is aiming, making FPGA's act as co-processors. But, HyperTransport's bandwidth is ~20GB/s, and the last time I checked Intel's FSB speed was still 1333Mhz which makes it atleast half as fast (~10GB/s?), if not slower. Why would I want to make something for a much slower bus if I can use a faster bus standard instead and both cost the same?

Re: Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854385)

I think this is Intel's lame attempt at competing in the HPC market. They're pulling out all the stops prior to AMD's Barcelona release. I can't think of any other reason for Intel to be going apeshit the way they are lately - announcing huge price cuts 4 months in advance to coincide with a competitor's next gen release and now opening up their FSB. All this started occurring just after the initial pre-prod Barcelonas became available. Coincidence?

wow (0, Redundant)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18852943)

Imagine if amd starts making processors that can fit onto intel motherboards? That would be interesting :)

Re:wow (1, Flamebait)

superbrose (1030148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853047)

They opened it up obviously because they are not worried about that happening. AMD is struggling as it is and currently there's no match for Intel processors, so why would anybody want to plug in an AMD processor there unless it was hugely cheaper or more powerful?

Re:wow (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853261)

so why would anybody want to plug in an AMD processor there unless it was hugely cheaper or more powerful?

For starters, intel's frontside bus is just that, a good old-fashioned FSB that hasn't changed much in years.

AMD's processors have something completely different. Not only is it physically incompatible, it's actually "Hypertransport" which is marketing speak for a chip-to-chip interconnect [wikipedia.org] . Look at all the big iron manufacturers supporting it. Note no intel. AMD has been shipping these processors since 2003. Intel's (incompatible) equivalent isn't due out until 2008. Other manufacturers have been shipping CPUs with similar interconnects since the mid 1990s (UltraSPARC, MIPS).

AMD processors implement NUMA [wikipedia.org] via this interconnect. Each CPU can have its own local memory. On an intel system, all processors compete for bandwidth over the shared FSB

This is why Opteron/Athlon 64 systems scale well past 2 processors. This is also why it will be easier to make e.g. graphics processors that fit in AMD motherboards.

intel processors may currently do better on selected synthetic benchmarks and niche applications. AMD, however, has a far more sophisticated, modern and scalable platform. Intel set sail on the itanic.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18855375)

"good old-fashioned FSB that hasn't changed much in years."

Very wrong. It has changed a lot in the recent two years.

"Opteron/Athlon 64 systems scale well past 2 processors."

Wrong again. Current HT does not scale well past 4 sockets.
It uses broadcasting cache coherency,
while 8-64 sockets system use directory based cache coherency system.

"intel processors may currently do better on selected synthetic benchmarks and niche applications. "

Wishfull thinking from you I guess.
AMD on the other hand can show very nice performance on synthetic memory benchmarks.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18855377)

intel processors may currently do better on selected synthetic benchmarks and niche applications.

Well, yeah, assuming you consider timedemos in games and timing actual video encoding processes and file compression speeds "synthetic" and "niche applications." I'd call them "everything I do with my computer that depends on the CPU" personally.

Re:wow (not?) (2, Interesting)

kadat (1092425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853111)

I can't see why would AMD want to use Intel's FSB when they have their own. Just for sake of users who can't switch CPUs in their motherboards as they wish? There are as many pros as cons in this situation - user can switch from Intel to AMD but she can also switch the other way around. I'm not familiar with this market and tech involved but it doesn't really sound like a big "WOW" for me.

But it sure is good. It may encourage others to make CPUs without the need to develop their own chipsets, FSBs, motherboards and therefore will bring more competition to the market. ATM we only have two players on the field, right? At least players that matter.

AMD vs. Intel, but not so literally. (5, Informative)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853339)

AMD opened their HyperTransport bus, royalty free, in 2001. They've signed people like Sun and Cisco, who have a big interest in moving a lot of data on buses. And if you get people using your bus, you can easily talk them into using your processors in their embedded devices.

That was a while ago, but I suspect it's coming to fruition or perhaps gaining more traction, if only now Intel is saying "me too."

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-528221.html [zdnet.com]

Re:wow (not?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853631)

Maybe the advantages of this aren't apparent right now. Besides, isn't open information a good thing in itself?

Re:wow (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853207)

I know this is only speaking for right now, but the motherboard and available chipsets aren't exactly AMD's weak suit. As it currently stands, at every level but the highest, the AM2's available motherboard chipsets and prices blow away the 775 Intel equivalents. If anything, I'd like to get a Core 2 Duo running on the AM2 than get an X2 running on a 775.

Will this make it less confusing? (5, Insightful)

pzs (857406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18852949)

I hope so. Every time I have to upgrade my machine I have to spend an hour on the web working out the 700 different kinds of processor I can buy and what type of socket I need to support them.

I had an AMD Duron 800MHz that I tried to replace with an Athlon 1300MHz which should have been supported, but created a nifty column of smoke when I plugged it in. Anything that reduces that likelihood is good in my book.

Peter

Re:Will this make it less confusing? (1, Troll)

chenjeru (916013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853379)

Maybe you should spend more than an hour researching next time.

Re:Will this make it less confusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853407)

Except for that one sentence that made you look like a total asshole, that was very funny.

Re:Will this make it less confusing? (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853773)

I too ran into this problem. Bought a new motherboard which should have been compatible with all of my existing parts, but when I got the motherboard it would not boot. Come to find in the 80 page manual written in poor English a tiny line about "Revision A of Willamette chips will not work on this motherboard." No reason listed, and not found anywhere in any of the reviews or forums I looked at.

Re:Will this make it less confusing? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854453)

Come to find in the 80 page manual written in poor English a tiny line about "Revision A of Willamette chips will not work on this motherboard." No reason listed, and not found anywhere in any of the reviews or forums I looked at.
That's why you just buy AMD :)

Trend (1)

joshier (957448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18852975)

This is a brilliant trend I'm seeing.. one can only hope this sets a precedent for other companies in this field.

I for one can see AMD going all the way with this recent news headline on Intels part... Intels started it, now let's hope AMD can finish it.

Re:Trend (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853083)

I hope they bring back the WinChip

Re:Trend (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853117)

Sorry to reply to my own comment but I just had a thought....

How about some open source hardware company take this up and develop a LinChip?

With openbios and a mips style chip designed for linux.... imagine the possibilities...

Wish I could plug one of my old alpha processors into this thing.

The WinChip? (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853483)

Please elaborate unless you are referring to the IDT/Centaur/VIA/Cyrix WinChip C6 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Trend (2, Informative)

phasm42 (588479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853853)

It never went away [wikipedia.org]

Re:Trend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853367)

I for one can see AMD going all the way with...

I for one wish people stop saying 'I for one'. Really annoying.

I wake up one day and everybody is starting sentences with 'I for one'. When did this trend start and when is it going to end?

Does this really make sense? (4, Interesting)

BenJeremy (181303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853025)

>> 'This shows that Intel is willing to take AMD seriously as a competitive threat, and is prepared to act upon it.'

I'm not sure how much sense this statement really makes. If they take AMD as a serious threat, wouldn't they WANT AMD to be forced to continue using their own bus? AM2 was probably a misstep, given the performance drops, giving intel the upper hand, but now they are willing to let AMD play in their sandbox - it helps AMD more than it hurts them.

I'm not complaining about the move, I just found the article a bit sparse on details and the statement at odds with common sense. Is it fully open, or does it require licensing? What is AMD's take on this news? How much re-work will be required to move AMD's processor cores to the intel bus? Will they gain performance or lose it in the translation?

Lots of questions that the Inquirer seems to totally ignore in what may be a significant development in the battle of the big boys.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853053)

Lots of questions that the Inquirer seems to totally ignore in what may be a significant development in the battle of the big boys.
Yes, like how long will it take before the AMD chips 'just seem to not perform as well as the Intel chips?' on the Intel FSB.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1, Insightful)

Disoculated (534967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853241)

If Intel had a chipset that both AMD and Intel could use, and AMD used it, they would gain a great deal. Like selling more chipsets to motherboard manufacturers and getting a piece of even AMD systems, dictating the future of the bus, memory, and form factors. Plus, even if there wasn't an actual performance benefit (and there probably would be since Intel would have made the design, and have that intelligence in-house), they could easily give the impression that running Intel chips on Intel hardware was 'better'.

But will AMD bite? Is working with Intel chipsets cheap enough that it makes it worth it to lose maintaining it's own sockets and bus?

And, if it bites, will Intel turn around in six years and lock them out of the next bus, forcing them to recreate (an re-capitalize) the means to start over?

Seems like a good move for Intel even if it just gets them the Via chips. A bad move for AMD if they fall for it.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853573)

"A chipset that both AMD and Intel could use," artificially limits what I think the reason for opening their FSB is. As has been said elsewhere, AMD opened HyperTransport (royalty-free) in 2001 and has gotten interest from companies like Cisco, Sun, etc. Having other people use your stuff with a zero entry cost is definitely good. You collaborate with them on the technology when they have implementation problems (goodwill is good for Bus2Bus) and they're also going to have more reason to choose your other chipsets and processors which use that same bus. See: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-528221.html [zdnet.com]

Re:Does this really make sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853247)

It does not make sense for AMD to use Intel's socket at this stage. AMD is no longer in the clone chip business. They already have onchip memory controller and hyper transport as a better connectivity solution. Moving back to FSB is technically silly. For the low volume FPGA modules and other interesting thing that need hosting, it make perfect sense to pay $100+ for the PC infra structures.

I am guessing that opening up a socket still would have some licensing involved.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853265)

It allows AMD to play on INTEL sold chipsets again. You have to think that the chipset market plays a pretty big role in the scale of things income wise also. And even though it lets AMD play on the same grounds, it also leaves intel as an upgrade option to an AMD processor in the future. This could steal away from AMD specific chipsets being sold. Also, this could leave intel into a spot where they could just up and change the FSB one day with little notice to AMD to have an answer back i the short term leaving them with OLD chips for OLD boards. To much to really know for sure on, but the rumor trolls will have fun with this one.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855089)

For all those reasons and more, AMD most likely won't create a chip to run on Intel chipsets. Not only that, but why would they step back 2 steps to technology from the last decade? AMD is already far ahead on the technology provided by chipsets, and has a less expensive solution to boot.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855229)

2 generations ahead and still can't compete with Intel's current gen on power consumption or perfomance? I guess that is progress.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855305)

I'm afraid you're incorrect on both. They compete with 3 year old tech roughly equivalent in both power and performance. Unless you're an Intel fanboi, of course. I'd expect Intel to at least blow away AMD with their new gen processor by at least a factor of 25% in both categories combined, or 50+% in just one, but they fail to do either.

If you have references that definitively state something else, please share. And no, the Anandtech article comparing the power and performance of C2D with AMD CPUs using a 590 SLI motherboard won't do. That motherboard chipset is a known powerhog. There are much more efficient AMD CPU/motherboard combinations.

Re:Does this really make sense? (1)

Bert the Turtle (1073828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853295)

About the competition aspect, if AMD were to move over onto the intel bus, then suddenly anyone can swap amd/intel processors at will. A bad analogy: Washing machines If washing powder A needs washing machine type 1, and washing powder B needs machine type 2, then everyone with machine 1 or 2 is tied to a manufacturer. This is good if your machines are better than your opponents, but not if your washing powder is, because people can't easily switch. Instead, if both powders work with the common machine, then people can (and will) switch more. So if your powder is better, you can expect to lure more and keep more customers.

Not at ALL what you are thinking: (4, Informative)

Visaris (553352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853317)

I'm not complaining about the move, I just found the article a bit sparse on details and the statement at odds with common sense. Is it fully open, or does it require licensing? What is AMD's take on this news? How much re-work will be required to move AMD's processor cores to the intel bus? Will they gain performance or lose it in the translation?

Intel is not trying to open their bus up to AMD. That is not at all the goal. First of all, access to the the Intel bus requires a license. I'm not sure Intel would even grand AMD one for a sane price. Second of all, AMD would in no way want Intel's bus. As has been the hot topic of discussion for over a year, AMD's HT (HyperTransport) point-2-point links are faster both in terms of bandwidth, and latency than Intel's FSB. HT uses less pins than Intel's bus, and HT devices are simpler, cost less, and use less power. HT is a pretty neat and effective technology. Intel's FSB on the other hand, is much the same as it was around 10 years ago. To answer your question, AMD would take a massive hit by going to Intel's POS bus. It's funny, ATM, AMD has the better bus/platform and Intel has the better core. No one here seems to realize that AMD would never be willing to throw out their main advantage right now... AM2 isn't the issue. The issue is HT. Hell, even IBM announced that Power7 will use AMD's HT links. No one will be dropping HT for the POSFSB any time soon.

Intel/AMD are only opening their sockets/buses in an attempt to get third party developers to make FPGAs, JAVAics, and other accelerators. AMD has had some luck with this, and one can buy co-processors that drop into an AMD socket today. Intel is trying to get the same benifits, but I don't really see the point until Intel can get CSI working and drop the antiquated FSB.

Re:Not at ALL what you are thinking: (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855137)

It's funny, ATM, AMD has the better bus/platform and Intel has the better core.
Are you sure that Intel has the better core? The fact that AMD's current 3 year old best keeps up with Intel's newest best tells me that the question of who has the better core is an open one. Yes, I know Intel in single-threaded apps bests AMD, but it's by no means conclusive, since AMD is at least equal in several areas. So it's going to be interesting in the next few months.

sorry... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853033)

Intel Opens Its Front-Side Bus

... just like your sister

Re:sorry... (1)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854589)

This explains the 277.7 KB "Intel shows her FSB shaved xxx.mpg" I downloaded on Limewire and tried to play.

100 users had that file too! It must be hot to--- NO CARRIER

didn't it used to be this way? (3, Interesting)

jack455 (748443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853039)

Back in the late 80's or early 90's couldn't you swap out processor's? I admit I didn't know much back then but I thought that was how AMD and Cyrix got started, on boards meant for Intel CPU's.

And by CPU, I DON'T mean the case and everything inside :)

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (2, Funny)

TheUni (1007895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853325)

And by CPU, I DON'T mean the case and everything inside :)


Yea, that'd be the "modem".

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

myz24 (256948) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853711)

No you dolt, that's the hard drive!

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853917)

No, that's the "hard drive".

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (2, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854959)

"Hard drive" was the common one back when I was doing tech work as a student in college.

It was kinda amusing one day we were sitting in the office and some professor comes in frantic that "Somebody stole my hard drive!!!?!?!?!".

We were all sitting there thinking "What person is gonna take the time and effort to open up the machine and take the hard drive? This guy must have secret flux capacitor plans on there or something.". We get to his office and the whole computer is gone . . .

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853335)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amd [wikipedia.org]

Check the "AMD x86 processors" section.

RTFL -- Are you serious? (-1, Troll)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853805)

We don't even RTFA around here and you expect us to follow your links? Next time, save me the response and copy / paste a tasty quote or two so I can just mod you down instead.

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853463)

In those days, Intel's sales reps would hand out free technical reference manuals that had the complete specs to the CPU bus interface.

You could get fun add-ons like the Weitek 3167, which was a floating-point coprocessor for the 386 that was several times faster than Intel's 80387.

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853647)

with the socket5/6/7 boards you could use any compatible processor. I routinely had MI and MII cores in my Socket [Super] 7 motherboards. I switched to K6-2 by the end before I got my first Athlon.

Tom

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

buck-yar (164658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853791)


Intel
-----

486 sx25/sx33 w/o math coprocessor
486 dx25/dx33/dx2-66/dx4-75/dx4-100

Did the dx4 use a 3x multiplyer? Didn't someone make a pentium upgrade chip for 486 boards (evergreen)?

Pentium 60/66
Pentium 75/90
Pentium 100/133
Pentium 166/200/233 w/mmx

Does anyone know the bus speeds? Seems like they used 60/66 in most of the Pentiums, and 25/33 in the 486s.

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (2, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854807)

Older AMD processors I have include the following:

chip speed (bus speed @ multiplier)
386dx 40 (40 @ 1x)
486dx 50 (50 @ 1x)
486dx2 66 (33 @ 2x)
486dx2 80 (40 @ 2x)
486dx4 100 (25 @ 4x, 33.3 @ 3x, even 50 @ 2x with proper cooling)
486dx4 120 (40 @ 3x)

I used to have this one but sold it:
k6-2 350 (100Mhz @ 3.5x)

AMD had more chips than this, including the k5, k6, and k6-3. I never owned any of those, so I don't remember the specs off the top of my head. After the k6-2 and k6-3 came the Socket A and Slot A Athlons and Durons. I won't get into history that recent.

I have a Cyrix 6x86 150+ which was a 120Mhz chip running on a 60Mhz bus at 2x multiplier. It really would keep up with a Pentium 150 on stuff written for a 486. However, it wouldn't run a lot of software optimized for the Pentium because it wasn't fully compatible. Like the original Pentiums, it didn't have MMX, either. The 6x86MX line did. These were also known as the M1 (6x86) and M2 (6x86MX) lines of chips. Cyrix is now part of Via.

Many older motherboards (socket 3 and socket 7, for instance) often let you change your bus speed, voltage, and multiplier with jumpers on the board. It didn't keep your chip safe, but if you could figure out a way to overclock without burning it up you were free to do so.

Intel also had the dx50, BTW. Lots of my friends have or had it. I also know people who used to run the Intel dx4-100 at 50 @ 2x (I know I did) even though Intel advised against it. Socket 7 for Intel was followed by Slot 1 and Socket 370.

Re:didn't it used to be this way? (1)

EXrider (756168) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855361)

Did the dx4 use a 3x multiplyer? Didn't someone make a pentium upgrade chip for 486 boards (evergreen)?
Yeah Evergreen... I put one of these in an old AST for my dad. It started out as a 33MHz DX, 4MB of RAM, 175MB WD HDD, running DOS/Win 3.1, then we upgraded it to a 66MHz DX2 with an Intel "Overdrive" chip and 8MB of RAM running Win95, then finally to an Evergreen/AMD K5 150MHz, 32MB of RAM, a 2GB HDD, running Slackware and NT4.

I'd say we got our money's worth out of that one. It still works... though it hasn't even been turned on in like 2 years.

My old lab monitor (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853057)

I once knew a girl who opened up her front side bus, and put some "non-Intel" things in it. It was pretty cool.

Explanation please? (1)

baudilus (665036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853101)

Honest question: can someone explain how this means that Intel is taking AMD as a serious threat? The only way I see this benefitting Intel is if people are buying Intel motherboard because they can then go with a cheaper third party processor. Is that it, or is there something I'm missing? Is there really a large enough market out there for this kind of thing to warrant opening the FSB? How many people would really buy a cheaper processor thinking that they'll "upgrade" to an intel later?

For the motherborad section? (3, Interesting)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853107)

I've bought Intel motherboards (and of course processors) for my last three computers, and they've been pretty rock solid.

Perhaps they think it wise to sell products that can be used even if their competitor gets a few bucks- until today didn't they effectively yield the floor for AMD motherboards to other companies?

Microsoft should likewise open up Windows 98SE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853135)

It would indicate they are taking the Linux desktop threat seriously.

Re:Microsoft should likewise open up Windows 98SE (1, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853383)

Win98se was a decent OS despite the vulnerabilities, it was the last Windows release i actually enjoyed using & tweaking, i have since started using Linux exclusively and don't even have windows installed on my PCs, i bet if Win98se was opened sourced it could be made to accept more RAM than 512 & run on faster CPUs/FSBs/ & etc...

Open98

this is was coolest tool to strip down Win98 with, WARNING: applications that depend on internet explorer will break! http://snoopy81.ifrance.com/rom2.htm [ifrance.com]

Re:Microsoft should likewise open up Windows 98SE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853657)

Microsoft probably reused so much of 98 in their later releases they're afraid we'll find out how little work they actally do between releases. "Make this confusing, make this consume a lot of RAM, overprice it, add some software that we bought off another company here, make it look cool so everyone will think it is a great breakthough in technology... I think I'll call it Vista!"

Re:Microsoft should likewise open up Windows 98SE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18854363)

Windows 98 was not a decent OS by any means. Usability-wise, Mac OS from a decade earlier was far better. In terms of performance, it was rather terrible. The security was essentially non-existent. It offered only the most basic of memory protection (leading to the 3-5 crashes per day, on the most stable of Windows 98 systems).

There was absolutely no reason for a product like Windows 98 to have been put out, especially not as late as the 1990s. High-quality systems like 4.4BSD, UnixWare, SCO UNIX, NetBSD, FreeBSD and BSD/OS brought mature OS technology to the x86 PC years earlier. Looking back, Microsoft should have probably done what Apple later did: rebuild their OS on top of UNIX. In Microsoft's case, they could have chosen one of the BSD-based systems, thus allowing them to continue with their closed-source business model.

Eh, um, no. (3, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854859)

If you like tweaking you can get more than 512 RAM on Win98 already. However, I suspect that if Windows 98 was ever GPLed, the Linux community would take one look at it, then proceed to gouge their eyes out.

Could this set an interesting precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18853171)

Maybe I'm too optimistic here, but could we imagine this as an example to other old-style corporate execs that being open sometimes can be a winning strategy?

Couldn't there be some sort of trap here? (3, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853185)

Example: Intel opens up FSB. Motherboard manufacturers tell AMD: making boards for multiple socket types is a pain and decreases profits. Why don't you make a CPU for the Intel socket instead? Intel of course will make sure to design it so that it's great for an Intel CPU and suboptimal for an AMD one.

The other companies probably don't worry Intel much. VIA might make something, but I highly doubt they could manage to make anything that'd take any significant market from Intel, given what they've been releasing.

Re:Couldn't there be some sort of trap here? (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853377)

Hypertransport is an open protocol. People would rather design hardware for HT then the Intel FSB from what I can tell (given there is already one FPGA accelerator for 939-pin sockets).

But that raises the same point. The open socket could be used for something other than a processor. Like another FPGA accelerator.

Tom

Re:Couldn't there be some sort of trap here? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855069)

Hypertransport is an open protocol.

Actually, HT isn't open. It's licensed royalty free to members of a consortium who have to pay annual membership fees.

Of course, the fact that they don't pay any per-device royalties means they can sublicense that tech to you (e.g. by including it on an FPGA) really cheaply.

Why would you design for the Intel FSB? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855193)

Considering the Intel FSB is essentially slated for obsolescence within 1.5 years with the introduction of Nehalem, why would anyone design anything for the Intel FSB?

Re:Couldn't there be some sort of trap here? (1)

Visaris (553352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853421)

Again, AMD will never switch to Intel's FSB. Intel's bus is slower, hotter, and larger (in terms of pin count). Please go google for HyperTransport and do some research. I think you'll see that HT is one of AMD's strongest technologies and Intel's FSB is one of their weakest. There it no way AMD would trow away a major advantage over their competitor, and further, there is no way AMD would allow their socket future to be controlled by a competitor. The idea is so far from reality, I don't even see why posters keep bringing it up again, and again, and again...

Re:Couldn't there be some sort of trap here? (1)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853513)

I don't think AMD would ever move to not having their own FSB. It's too ripe for abuse. I think they're doing this in response to AMD opening HyperTransport royalty-free [zdnet.com] and getting interest from companies like Cisco, who have an interest in high-power buses. That was in 2001. I've got a hunch that Intel is itching for some of that action. If you get someone else using your transport, you're more likely to (A) sell them processors and other patented technology (chipsets) and to (B) have a collaboration with these partners about the technology and implementation which would benefit both AMD and their partner. AMD was quite smart with that move, and I suspect it had a lot to do with Intel's recent announcement.

A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (3, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853223)

Way back when, there used to be a real benefit to upgrading your 133MHz PC to 200MHz and it was easy to do so just by changing the CPU.

TBH, these days, for general desktop use I don't think that benefit's there any more. If you want to see a real benefit, you're best off replacing the CPU with something drastically faster. This may well involve a new motherboard and possibly new memory.

Alternatively, you upgrade the more sensible way - look at your computer needs, look to see what's causing a bottleneck currently and upgrade that. Much more cost-effective than just replacing a CPU and hoping you see a benefit.

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (2, Insightful)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853391)

Way back when, there used to be a real benefit to upgrading your 133MHz PC to 200MHz and it was easy to do so just by changing the CPU.
Quite - though as a percentage that was a significant upgrade.

In the days when every MHz counted, we all clawed to be at the cutting edge because upgrading really made a noticeable difference (not just to games, but the speed of everyday activities). Now the effect is less noticeable except in games as a FPS increase or the ability to turn on extra effects.

I remember a lecturer at Uni asking us if we thought that the 200MHz CPU speeds of the time would increase, citing Moore's Law and questioning whether parallelism was the way forward. At the time it would've astonished all of us to even think of a processor with a core running at 2.4GHz. Give it ten years and what will we have? 256-core processors running with core clock speeds of 100GHz? I'm pretty sure it won't help my word processor live spell-check any quicker, but the Quake 3 framerates will be through the roof! (Not that that benchmark will be relevant when we've all got direct immersive links to our brain's perception centers).

But you can bet we'll go through a massive number of socket changes en-route and few of them will be compatible between competitive chipsets. :)

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854509)

I think progress goes slightly faster in your universe than in our.

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (1)

memfrob (157990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855103)

256-core processors running with core clock speeds of 100GHz? I'm pretty sure it won't help my word processor live spell-check any quicker[...]

Wait until you see the minimum system requirements for Microsoft Word 2017...

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (4, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18855341)

Give it ten years and what will we have? 256-core processors running with core clock speeds of 100GHz?

100GHz is probably pushing it. You'll note that we haven't seen a huge increase in clock speeds recently, but rather continuing increases in instructions per cycle. I'd guess we'll reach a plateau somewhere around the 10GHz mark.

Moore's Law will soon hit a much more fundamental law: physics. You can't keep shrinking transistors like they are at the moment; it was predicted that we'd reach the limit years ago (yes, I too remember the advent of 200MHz desktop processors, and thinking they couldn't get much faster), but the fact we haven't so far doesn't mean we won't. Moore's Law demands a shrinking by a factor of 1.4 every 18 months. We're currently on 45nm. This gives us the following trend:

end 2008 - 32nm
start 2010 - 22nm
end 2011 - 16nm
start 2013 - 12nm
end 2014 - 8nm
start 2016 - 6nm
end 2017 - 4nm

4 nanometres is only 38 atomic radii of silicon. It seems unlikely that a transistor this small could be produced. Therefore, as long as we continue to use silicon transistors (and no promising alternative that solves this issue exists right now) we will see the end of Moore's Law within the next 10 years. I'm sure of it.

And an end of Moore's Law will not only slow GHz increases, but also will slow the adoption of larger numbers of cores, because without shrinking transistors the only way to increase number of cores is by having a larger die size, which is more expensive and requires larger chip size, which requires larger system board size, which requires larger case size, which consumers don't like.

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853675)

Alternatively, you upgrade the more sensible way - look at your computer needs, look to see what's causing a bottleneck currently and upgrade that. Much more cost-effective than just replacing a CPU and hoping you see a benefit.

Yup. I've used a lot of machines that are slow because they're constantly using virtual memory. More machines are slowed down by lack of RAM than lack of CPU speed these days.

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854471)

Also get decent peripherals. I doubt many people reading Slashdot do it, but you might be able to influence others not to buy crap like USB ADSL "modems", cheap inkjets with expensive cartridges and weird drivers, etc., to attach to their PC with a fast expensive processor and not quite enough RAM.

Of course people like that do need a fast PC and lots of RAM, to keep up with all the malware they will be running.

Re:A lot of it depends how quickly you change CPUs (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853841)

That depended on whether your motherboard had the jumpers to set CPU multiplier, voltage, and FSB speed. Kind of like today, but it now depends on what your chipset and BIOS can handle.

Ah, the bad old days.

The Inquirer? (1)

davewalden (1028118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853385)

Does anyone here actually believe anything that is reported in The Inquirer?

The Way It Should Be (1)

Shaltenn (1031884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853571)

"In addition to this breaking one of the most sacred taboos at Intel, it also hints that engineering now has the upper hand over bureaucracy."
 
The way it should be in a company like this.

FPGAs, anyone? (3, Interesting)

labreuer (950633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18853683)

This opening of the front side bus also means that you'll be able to plug FPGAs into it [embedded.com] , which could be very cool. One way to solve the gigahertz slowdown is to specialize hardware: think co-processor that can be reconfigured in seconds to fit the particular task at hand, like video encoding.

The reason it's a response to AMD (3, Informative)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854037)

...is not that AMD wants to be on Intel motherboards, though perhaps they wouldn't mind that. It's that AMD has already opened THEIR bus and sockets to non-AMD devices. The idea is that people will come up with specialized CPUs or FPGAs for tasks at which they can cream general purpose CPUs. Encryption, HPC, etc. It's a good idea, it's going to happen, but it might not matter much to the average user, at least at first.

And yes, the bus speed matters. I've seen neural net tests in which Woodcrest, for example, does much better at 1333MHz using four cores than you'd see at 1066MHz. That's the same architecture except for bus speed. AMD's memory bandwidth is still better, though they lag in other areas.

I don't know whether, or how much, you'll see that bus bandwidth matter in the typical slashdotter workload (games).

Don't buy this. (0, Offtopic)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854281)

MS competed and released competetive IE browsers until Netscape died painfully. It then stagnated, and continued to consolidate its monopoly position. Intel has shown no evidence that it will not do exactly the same, once AMD goes away. Don't think for one second that they won't put shareholder profits before customers.

Re:The reason it's a response to AMD (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854865)

Actually there are already companies that make socket 940 FPGAs. Just what you could do with a quad socket 940 motherboard.
How fast would a neural net run if you coded it into one or more FPGAs and had a few dual core cpus feeding them data?
It does open up some interesting options.

I like Intel but... (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854277)

"This shows that Intel is willing to take AMD seriously as a competitive threat, and is prepared to act upon it. In addition to this breaking one of the most sacred taboos at Intel, it also hints that engineering now has the upper hand over bureaucracy."

When they have to spell it out for you what their actions supposedly "hint" at, you know you're reading quite a silly PR spin on the matter.

It's an FPGA (Holy silicon Batman!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18854287)

That's all we need to know. [So long as you know what an FPGA is - it's a blank slate that lets you design a hardware circuit/chip/whatever all the way up to CPU scale and then just load it up into the device as software. The result is a chip of your own design built in software running at _hardware_ speeds. No need for a fab or anything.]

Now I can buy a commodity PC sans CPU and a blank chip. Burn the chip with my own hardware, plug it in and it has access to all that lovely commodity PC I/O and memory stuff, all at FSB speeds.

This is very significant as it opens the way to backyard specialist devices - do this on a microboard like the PC104 format (small PC-on-a-single-board) and you'll be raking it in.

Conquering Heroes? (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854597)

So now that Intel's flagship is head and shoulders ahead of what AMD is making, now they're going to be swell guys and open up their FSB specification?

Some encouragement of competition. "We'll complete as long as we're winning."

I wonder if other companies will decide to get into the desktop CPU markets and use this as a starting point.

Unsupported conclusion (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18854977)

In addition to this breaking one of the most sacred taboos at Intel, it also hints that engineering now has the upper hand over bureaucracy

No decisions involving that much money are left to engineers.

Engineers are the people who say, "You know what would be cool?" and then lay out an idea. The bean counters study it, perform an analysis, and then decide if there is money in it. If there is, then the idea is given a green light. If not, no matter how cool the idea is - it gets buried.

Remember, we're talking about one of the major money making product lines for Intel - a company worth billions. Engineers are never going to have an upper hand in that environment.

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