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Hypertransport standard goes optical

Opteron interlinks at the speed of light
Thu Jan 30 2003, 12:36
AMD HYPERTRANSPORT is about to go optical, according to specialists Primarion. The company has said it will submit a proposed specification for optical links chips at the Platform Conference in San Jose, California.

Primarion, which is based in Tempe, Arizona, specialises in optical data communications systems and is bullish about the possibilities. According to InfoWorld, Primarion's Brian Wong said, "The main goal is, once you're in the optical bandwidth, scalability is very easy."

The technology could be used to link different systems using Hypertransport allowing high speed point-to-point communications. It doesn't take much thinking to realise that the obvious candidate for those types of link is AMD's Hammer series of processors which already use Hypertransport to talk to each other in multiprocessor environments.

Where once AMD was the definite underdog, this technology could push it even further into the realms of extreme number crunching. Interchip communications is one of the biggest bottlenecks in large processor arrays. Using optical connections could remove a large part of that bottleneck. However, whether the Hammer chips will be capable of dealing with the new type of link without serious modifications could be a point of contention.

There can be no doubt this will send a large shudder down the spine of AMD's chief rival Intel. The Hammer chips have already started scoring major wins in the supercomputing arena. Adding optical interconnection technology can only boost that ability. µ

 

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