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Fast interconnect technology wins more fans

Eleven new members for AMD's HyperTransport Technology Consortium

AMD has drummed up more support for its HyperTransport interconnect technology, with 11 new companies joining the HyperTransport Technology Consortium. This brings the total number of participating companies to 51 less than a year since AMD formed the group to promote it.

HyperTransport enables point-to-point high-speed data exchange between ICs (integrated circuits) on chips. Data transmission speeds of up to 12.8GBps (gigabytes per second) in a 32bit HyperTransport I/O link can be reached using the technology, as compared to 266MBps (megabytes per second) using older technologies. HyperTransport allows for simultaneous and bidirectional data exchange, whereas older standards only allowed data to flow in one direction at a time.

With this announcement companies including ATI Technologies, Silicon Integrated Systems, Tektronix and Via Technologies have joined the Consortium.

AMD announced the HyperTransport technology in February last year, and formed the Consortium in July 2001 with charter members Apple, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Transmeta, nVidia, API NetWorks and PMC-Sierra.

The Consortium's goal is to promote the technology as the best way to provide the bandwidth required to support the forthcoming Infiniband standard. Infiniband is used for linking servers with high-speed data connections across longer distances than HyperTransport can support.

Three technologies are competing to become the standard for data exchange among chips, peripherals and other internal hardware: HyperTransport, PCI-X (peripheral component interconnect — extended), and RapidIO, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst for US market researcher company Insight 64. HyperTransport has the advantage right now, since products are shipping with the technology incorporated directly on to the processor, he said.

PCI-X was developed jointly by IBM, HP and the former Compaq, and is supported by AMD rival Intel. Products containing PCI-X technology won't ship until the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004, said Brookwood. RapidIO is focused on the networking industry, and vendors are just beginning to ship products containing the technology.

AMD is using HyperTransport technology as the basis for its next-generation chips, codenamed Hammer, which are due out around the end of 2002 or the beginning of 2003. Because AMD has put HyperTransport directly on to the chip, it will have a speed advantage when communicating with other HyperTransport-equipped chips on networking and graphics hardware, although it's too soon to tell exactly how much of an advantage AMD will enjoy.

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