I think I can safely say that anyone with an interest in computers and a net connection has been introduced to both AMD's 760 MP and nVidia's nForce chipset over the past few days. And although that's a nice accomplishment on the behalf of both companies' marketing departments there's a little more to it than meets the eye. Quite possibly the introduction of both chipsets has affected your 'wish list' or has made you decide to wait until either of these products becomes widely available. And although in both cases this isn't necessarily a bad thing, there are some things I just can't help but wonder about.
Firstly, AMD's 760 MP chipset is a chipset that has been one of the most anticipated chipsets to date. We've been waiting for it for months, and have seen reports of its prospective performance, whether accurate or not, mentioned all over the net. Looking back upon the problems AMD was faced with during the Athlon's introduction, the initial lack of support in software, chipsets and motherboards, but also the customer appreciating it as a viable alternative to an Intel CPU, AMD's Athlon has still come a long way. The 760 MP chipset and the Athlon MP CPU were actually poised to be AMD's answer to Intel's x86 dual processing monopoly and were frankly expected to take the dual processing crown.
Fig 1. AMD Athlon MP CPU, manufactured in .18-micron and featuring 37.5-million transistors on a 128 mm2 die.
The 760 MP is a step up from the 750 and 760 chipsets and puts AMD in a whole new arena, the workstation market, one that is unfortunately not as forgiving and easy to persuade as the average consumer, that usually wants the most MHz or the best price/performance ratio. Although we're pleased to see AMD has finally got a competing chipset to Intel's SMP capable offerings we're a little surprised to see that AMD took that long to implement SMP. SMP, or rather dual processing support, was already implemented in the EV-6 bus at the introduction of the Athlon in 1999. We've come a long way since 1999 and have seen various chipsets that support the Athlon come and go, none of them offering SMP.