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  The AMD 760 MP and nVidia's nForce, crowd pleasers? 
  Jun 06, 2001, 09:00am EDT 
 

AMD or Intel workstation?


By: Sander Sassen

Although the 760 MP and the Athlon MP CPUs are a step up from the 750 and 760 chipsets and other chipsets from, for example, VIA and Ali, the 760 MP isn't that much different from the 760. In whole it offers a second CPU socket, and due to the EV-6 bus each CPU has a dedicated bus to each CPU, instead of a shared bus as found on Intel's SMP solutions, and a few other extra features. But it is not offering any features that would really make it an all-out crowd pleaser in terms of performance or features. In reality it's an AMD chipset finally taking advantage of the SMP support already found within the EV-6 bus protocol, something that took two years to implement. I'm not saying I'm not pleased to see its debut, its just my observation that they should've maybe done this much earlier and debut SMP Athlons in the consumer market and gain support early on, before going after the high-end x86 workstation market.

But there's more, and we already touched upon that in our dual Intel Xeon DP review. With the introduction of the AMD 760MP chipset and the Athlon MP CPU, AMD is now set to have an answer to Intel's Xeon DP architecture, which would otherwise have become the de-facto standard for x86 workstations. However AMD must either not have wanted to go after the x86 workstation performance crown, or they didn't want to go all out against Intel just yet. For AMD to make a lasting impression in the x86 workstation market they need something that's beyond questioning, both in performance and features and is ready to take on anything Intel has to offer, currently available or in the near future.

Intel Xeon DP


Fig 2. Intel Xeon DP CPU, also manufactured in .18-micron and featuring a copper-alloy heat spreader on top of the CPU-die.

For AMD to do that and gain support and market share in the x86 workstation market it doesn't make sense for them to just release an SMP Athlon platform and then expect people to start buying their product. The workstation market is one that is poised for performance, and most workstations come with a price tag that'll buy you a number of desktop systems. The people, or rather companies, that'll be buying these workstations usually don't care about paying extra for performance as that will win them time and/or efficiency in the long run.

For AMD to give Intel a run for their money and make their x86 SMP architecture the de-facto standard in the workstation market they should not have released their 760MP chipset with two 1.2GHz Athlon MPs but rather 1.7GHz or even 1.8GHz versions of the CPU instead. In my opinion they should've rather waited for these CPUs to become available and in the meantime focus on the dual CPU consumer market.

The workstation market isn't one that is forgiving, but is one that puts performance, stability and compatibility first, before any price considerations. If the 760 MP and Athlon MP CPUs had been introduced at 1.7GHz or 1.8GHz clockspeeds they would have swept the ground from under Intel's offerings, probably both in price and performance. It would have put Intel in the backseat for good, as they have no product currently or in the near future that could compete with a dual 1.7 or 1.8GHz Athlon.

From the very start AMD would then have had a product that is not only an alternative, but also an obvious choice for anybody wanting the highest performing x86 workstation. Now they unfortunately have to face another clockspeed battle and prove themselves in the workstation market that they could've had in their pocket from day one. As for the price/performance battle it may come as no suprise that an 760 MP/dual Athlon MP combination is far less expensive than a dual Xeon DP configuration, so the 760 MP platform might be your platform of choice afterall.



1. AMD’s 760 MP and Athlon MP
2. AMD or Intel workstation?
3. nVidia’s nForce, marketing force?

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