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AMD diverts resources from the Quad FX platform development the same year it promises Quad FX is the enthusiast future

AMD excited many technology enthusiasts last year when it introduced the Quad FX platform. AMD representatives touted this platform as the next big thing from AMD.

AMD apparently talked up its Quad FX enthusiast platform so well that Intel decided to roll out a competing product in its unreleased Skulltrail platform. When the Quad FX platform first hit market in January of 2007 it seemed doomed from the start to many with steep price premiums for the mainboards and the processors. These price premiums led to the lethargic adoption of the platform.

According to The Tech Report AMD representative Suzy Pruitt commented on the future of Quad FX. “The short answer is that while there are still engineering resources focused on future platform offerings that build off Quad FX, the current energy and effort has gone into programs and product initiatives like Spider and AMD has discontinued future planning and development of its eight-core enthusiast platform at this time.”

Pruitt continued, “We will continue to support customers that have an existing Quad FX with DSDC and are also working on an upgrade path for those customers. While AMD is not actively promoting AMD Opteron processor as a 2P enthusiast solution, we recognized that there are enthusiasts who are looking for two-socket solutions and think an Opteron platform is well-suited to meet that demand at this time.”

After all the promises ad statements by AMD that Quad FX was the companies enthusiast future, AMD has apparently decided to all but kill the platform off. The few enthusiasts who plunked down the big dollars required to adopt the platform should be feeling a bit uncomfortable right now.

AMD promises to continue support for the platform. However, AMD also promised the platform was the future and the company has all but killed it off the same year. The best Quad FX owners can look forward to is an upgrade to Opteron processors that work with the Quad FX mainboards.

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By ViRGE on 11/29/2007 4:49:23 PM , Rating: 3
While I had been expecting AMD to kill the Quadfather, their choice of an upgrade path is odd. The differentiating feature about the FX chips compared to the Opterons was that they used faster, cheaper unregistered memory that's commonly used in desktop computers. Meanwhile the Opterons require said buffered memory, meaning anyone that wants to drop in an Opteron to replace an FX chip would also have to replace their memory.

At that point, why not ditch the platform entirely? It's really not a viable upgrade path.

RE: Opterons?
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 6:05:45 PM , Rating: 3
The Opteron 100/1000 series of processors (which support only one socket) have been capable of using plain unbuffered ECC (vs. registered/buffered ECC) for a long time.

Likely AMD would only have to tweak a bit on the Opteron memory controller to enable the use of unbuffered ECC RAM on the Opteron 2000 series processors. Something like this might be even doable via the BIOS.

If AMD had been intelligent, they would have done this long ago, further capitalizing on the Opteron's built-in memory controller.

This change have enabled dual socket (2S) systems to be built with cheaper/faster RAM with the limitation of fewer banks being supported. As an Opteron 1000 processor supports 4 DIMMs (at least), the limitation would be small, presuming that each Opteron 2000 could also support 4 DIMMs of unbuffered ECC RAM, giving the user 8GB to 16GB max (1GB/2GB DIMM size).

Of course, Opteron servers could keep using ECC REG to pick up the support for more banks.

AMD would likely have profited from being more aggressive in pushing support into their memory controller for newer/better RAM vs. playing it safe. Intel is usually trying the new memory years before AMD supports it (ala DDR3).

If AMD is willing to go to the lengths of making a three-legged CPU, I don't see why they would not spend the minimal effort to better segment the Opteron platform into workstation/high-end gaming and server platforms. Without the high cost of ECC REG DIMMs, two socket Opteron boards would be very appealing to many.

QuadFX could have done all this, offered well thought out improvements to the existing Opteron platform, but instead delivered nothing more than an ugly baby with an extreme thirst for the milk, ultimately a baby that AMD decided to throw in a dumpster.

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