"Geneseo" accelerators are PCI-E cards
Intel claims revolutionary jump forward but takes a smaller evolutionary step first

This week during Intel's spring IDF conference in Beijing, the chip giant revealed several initiatives that it claims will give it a prominent position entering 2008. One of the most stand-out projects in the works is dubbed Geneseo, aimed at competing squarely with AMD's Torrenza technology.

Both AMD and Intel express interest in opening up their respective processor platforms to allow third-party hardware developers to produce "accelerators" that can be integrated into a system, providing specialized processing for specific tasks. Late last year, Intel responded to Torrenza during its fall IDF conference by claiming that it too will open up its server platform. Today, however, we find that while Geneseo is headed in a similar direction as AMD, there are significant differences between the two platforms.

One of the biggest announcements that AMD made about Torrenza is that it will allow companies to create accelerators that install directly into an Opteron socket -- AMD has already indicated it will be using this approach in its Fusion project. Utilizing this method, accelerators can take full advantage of the system bus as well as high-speed, low latency paths to system memory and other devices. Using Torrenza, companies can also develop accelerators that plug directly into a PCI-Express slot -- Intel's Geneseo platform only offers the later.

According to details that Intel released this week, accelerators will only connect via the PCI-Express bus. Intel claimed that this is the most cost effective way of developing an open platform.

"The majority of accelerators can be efficiently supported by PCIe," Intel revealed in its channel guidance. Currently, this statement may be true as some of the most processor intensive accelerators including graphics and specific math processors rely on PCIe.

AMD, on the other hand, states Torrenza will yield better performance by giving accelerators a direct communications path with the system processor.

Stripped of all the fancy names, Intel's Geneseo is more along the lines of an extension of the PCI-Express architecture and specification. Unlike AMD's Torrenza, Intel guidance states that Geneseo aims to simplify development time and costs -- Intel also made a note that its model is based on a more "well established compatibility model."

According to Intel roadmaps, the company hopes to deliver Geneseo systems by 2009.

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