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AMD shows off enthusiast platform performing "mega-tasking"

AMD has been all over the news in the past week, first with its massive price cuts and second with its merger with ATI. In a bid to steal Intel’s quad-core limelight, AMD held a demonstration of its previously announced 4x4 enthusiast platform. The demo placed great emphasis on "mega-tasking," showing the 4x4 system running various multitasking scenarios. Some scenarios included playing games while a video was being encoded in the background or multiple CPU bound applications running simultaneously.  AMD’s demo systems were powered by two unnamed dual-core Athlon 64 FX processors and compared to an Athlon 64 FX-62 equipped system.

During the event, AMD stated end-users should be able to pickup a pair of 4x4 compatible processors for under $1000. Previously, AMD had claimed that the 4x4 platform would be limited to the FX series processors only, and currently all FX series CPUs are priced at least $500.  No specifications were available on bundled 4x4 Athlon 64 FX processors.

AMD 4x4 systems will be NUMA compatible allowing each processor access to its own pair of 240-pin DDR2 memory slots. However, memory capacity appears to be handicapped on 4x4 systems with a maximum of 2GB per processor. There was no mention of Athlon 64 X2 compatibility in 4x4 systems or details on the motherboards.

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Demo results
By bozilla on 7/26/2006 5:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
So what are the results of the new 4x4 platform when they ran it against those FX processors. Those tests sound like something that we are able to do with ease even today, the significant difference should be performance, but I'm just curious to see what kind of a boost they got with these new 4x4 processors.

RE: Demo results
By KristopherKubicki on 7/26/2006 7:09:25 AM , Rating: 4
Unfortunately, there were no metrics demonstrated -- only the fact that the machine was running and the applications were as well.

RE: Demo results
By OrSin on 7/26/2006 9:10:03 AM , Rating: 2
What is the big deal. You can get dual server boards already and at least one of them you dont need ECC memory and it has a PCI-E slot. Dual Opt right now are most cost freindly them the FX chips so I'm still missing something here.

RE: Demo results
By retrospooty on 7/26/2006 11:52:06 AM , Rating: 2
It pretty much is a dual opteron setup. It's just being marketed to high end consumers, rather than the server space.

The only really "big deal" is that Intel's upcoming quad core implementation is said to be lacking.

RE: Demo results
By Anh Huynh on 7/26/2006 12:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
Only difference is it uses regular memory and you have greater BIOS tweaking features.

By GoatMonkey on 7/26/2006 8:12:31 AM , Rating: 2
So, what we're seeing is pretty much equivalent to an Opteron with DDR2 memory and no ECC. Why should I be excited about this?

They need more significant price cuts to make this interesting.

RE: So...
By rrsurfer1 on 7/26/2006 8:34:47 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. At that pricing intel's 4 core version of Core 2 will be cheaper and almost certainly perform better.

RE: So...
By retrospooty on 7/26/2006 11:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
Not really... What they are saying is that Intel's 4 core version is just 2 core's on top of 2 cores, there are no real bandwidth inprovments, and nothing that can act as a high speed interconnect as the hypertransport bus does.

In the end, benchies will tell all, but most insiders agree AMD will own the 4x4 space.

RE: So...
By unparalleled intellect on 7/26/2006 3:03:47 PM , Rating: 2
Haha. Of course AMD will own the 4x4 space. It's AMD's product after all. :)

RE: So...
By androticus on 7/27/2006 2:37:34 AM , Rating: 2

In the end, benchies will tell all, but most insiders agree AMD will own the 4x4 space.

"most insiders agree"??? which ones???
Intel is compensating for lack of on-chip controller by using a more sophisticated pre-fetching mechanism, as well as other enhancements in fetching things before being needed. It is enabling them to spank AMD's *ss quite soundly with even low-clocked chips like the 6300. It remains to be seen whether shmushing two Intel chips together will saturate their new memory bus (also taking account of the higher caches on the Intel chips), or if AMD will pull ahead. I don't think it is possible to even make an educated guess yet! Perhaps the best way to compare would be looking at a head-to-head of some current Athlon 2 x X2 systems against Woodcrest 2x systems, since those configurations will be extremely similar to the eventual Conroe-based 4 core solution of Intel.

RE: So...
By androticus on 7/27/2006 2:39:43 AM , Rating: 2
DOH! Of course that should have read "Opteron" not "Athlon".

Why do the Anandtech writers get to update their articles, but we don't get to update our replies??? ;)

4x4 = server?
By soydios on 7/26/2006 12:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
So, how is 4x4 different technologically than a 2-socket dual-core Opteron system? Branding?

RE: 4x4 = server?
By Anh Huynh on 7/26/2006 12:34:56 PM , Rating: 3
Regular memory instead of registered-ECC.

RE: 4x4 = server?
By Master Kenobi on 7/26/2006 2:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yea thats pretty much the only difference. I wanna see them bench this 4x4 against a 2 processor Opteron, and then a 2 Processor Xeon(Woodcrest), just to see what outperforms what, for the pricepoint AMD is talking, this will directly compete with Xeon and Opteron 2 CPU configurations.

Ain't it just terrible?
By marvdmartian on 7/26/2006 8:55:15 AM , Rating: 2
However, memory capacity appears to be handicapped on 4x4 systems with a maximum of 2GB per processor.

Oh, the horror! Ain't it just terrible when you're limited to ONLY 2gb of memory?!?!? ***SIGH***

RE: Ain't it just terrible?
By blckgrffn on 7/26/2006 9:47:44 AM , Rating: 2
When you pay to have 4 processors, yes, that could be horrible.

What's the point of 64 bit if addressable memory is still limited to 2GB?


RE: Ain't it just terrible?
By ZeeStorm on 7/26/06, Rating: 0
RE: Ain't it just terrible?
By CrossFusion on 7/26/2006 9:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
anyone notice that A) its two processors, not 4, which makes the title 4x4 misleading, and that the article states that a PAIR of 4x4 capable procs will cost less than a grand?

Intel will kill 4x4 in all benchmarks
By photoguy99 on 7/26/2006 12:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the problem - anyone buying one of these systems is willing to shell out some bucks for speed.

However if you're willing to shell out some bucks for speed, just buy a dual woodcrest (xeon) system.

Not cheap but it would totally crush the AMD system (2 x Core2 Extreme effectively).

Oh yes, and it wouldn't be crippled to 4GB system memory.

I may not need more than 4GB now but out of principle I'm not buying an intentionally memory crippled 64-bit system.

RE: Intel will kill 4x4 in all benchmarks
By johnsonx on 7/26/2006 12:35:34 PM , Rating: 2
Same way the cow from the Bar-T ranch is different from the cow at the Bar-S ranch... Branding son, Branding!

By johnsonx on 7/26/2006 12:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
HEY! I know I clicked the reply link for the post below. This comment system has it's little quirks.

I think I know why too... someone else was posting a reply to the same message, which must have changed the message ID's during my typing; thus when I clicked 'Post Comment', it ended up in the wrong spot.

More details needed
By peternelson on 7/26/2006 9:58:44 AM , Rating: 2

We need MORE details please.

Try to find out what processors they were using, and which others might be supported eg can I buy 5000+ dualcore now and stick it in a 4x4 board later?

Try to find out if the dimms could be 2GB each giving 8GB.

Try to find out what chipset was on the board, and who made it?

Try to find out whether there are extra I/O channels provided, and how many hypertransport channels, and do the new boards have HTX slots?

And some launch date in 2006?

RE: More details needed
By Garreye on 7/27/2006 4:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure they're just as interested to know these details as we are...once they know, we'll know...

Big Whoop.
By CBone on 7/26/2006 10:22:45 AM , Rating: 2
What does this have over a comparably priced Xeon system?

RE: Big Whoop.
By JazzMang on 7/26/06, Rating: 0
RE: Big Whoop.
By BladeVenom on 7/26/2006 11:22:08 AM , Rating: 2
The new Xeons use a Woodcrest core so they don't suck anymore.

Big Yawner
By DallasTexas on 7/26/2006 11:28:24 AM , Rating: 1
4x4 is AMD's feable attempt to respond to Core2 Duo. Basically, 4x4 strategy is "hey, buy 4 of them.. their cheap". Never mind the 1 Kilowatt of power and heat generated to perhaps win one or two obscure benchmarks out of 35 that Core2 Duo wins at 1/5th the price.

It's pathetic marketing at it's best. However, AMD's options between now and 2H07 are very limited. This will at least give AMD the opportunity to claim some benchmark crown they can advertise as being the most benchmark- ever.

RE: Big Yawner
By umerok on 7/26/2006 11:40:36 AM , Rating: 3
Every benchmark is benchmark benchmark

Remember, this is marketed at "enthusiasts." There are always people willing to spend money on the newest, fastest, shiniest, tastiest tech they can get their hands on. Those are the people who will buy 4x4, and keep links to all the positive 4x4 reviews in their clipboard at all times.

Any details?
By Janooo on 7/26/2006 8:17:54 AM , Rating: 2
Motherboard - brand (if any), chipset?
GPU's - 1 or SLI/XF?

More Interesting on Vista
By rupaniii on 7/26/2006 8:24:33 AM , Rating: 2
Since Vista is, as can be seen in the beta, going to hog all system resources for itself to schedule, I am interested in how the Dual Core Dual CPU Platform will work out on Vista, be it here or on Opteron. I'd think AMD would actually impliment a unified thread scheduler across processors in order to maximize single process performance while taking full advantage of the hardware in multithreaded environmnets (on Athlon X2/4x4, not Opteron please). Perhaps the L3 UniCache will do so per processor anyway. Most interesting will be rendering on Vista with Dual GPUs (perhaps just Crossfire by then!? ATi+ AMD). To see how Vista distributes the workload, and if the Drivers can direct it in the right way. Sofar, the OS is interesting and disturbing all at once.

By devolutionist on 7/26/2006 8:50:11 AM , Rating: 2
think it was running on an nVidia chipset? LOL! hey wait, that's not funny...

4x4 != Server
By customcoms on 7/26/2006 11:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
Servers require ECC memory, which ups reliability for a rather large increase in cost. ECC memory does not like being run 'out of spec' (eg. overclocked). Also, name a server that supports overclocking. No motherboard supporting 2 physical processors or more can overclock to any real extreme. This is going to be a very demanding system power wise and motherboard wise (at least in order to overclock it, and its an marketed towards the extreme enthusiast so...). I would not simply brand this as a "server"-I'm sure AMD has some more tricks up their sleeve (RD600 on an HTX slot anyone?). We need more details!

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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