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Nvidia licenses AMD LDT bus

Connects graphics company's North and Southbridge parts

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Nvidia has licensed AMD's Lightning Data Transport bus technology, as have nine other companies, while 20-30 more are evaluating it, Chimpzilla told attendees at the Platform Conference in San Jose, this week.

The Nvidia connection is particularly interesting, given the work the company, which is better known for its graphics parts, is doing on integrated Northbridge and Southbridge parts, primarily for Microsoft's Xbox console.

Nvidia admitted last September that it is developing what it calls Media Communications Processor (MCP) for Xbox - and that it intends to offer the part to PC OEMs. MCP combines audio, peripheral I/O and networking controllers on a single piece of silicon. It was originally expected "early 2001", according to Nvidia's marketing manager, Dan Vivoli, at the time, but it's now looking more likely that it won't see light of day before Q2.

MCP works with an Nvidia Northbridge part, said to be codenamed 'Crush' that also sports the company's GeForce 2 graphics processor core. LDT connects the two components, and ties them in to AMD processors. Since Xbox will be based on an Intel CPU, there must be some significant differences between the Xbox MCP and the part Nvidia intends to offer more widely, partly to PC OEMs but mostly, we suspect, to would-be set-top box and information appliance makers. At that point, Nvidia will presumably throw its weight behind Athlon.

LDT provides 2-bit to 32-bit paths, yielding a data throughput of 100Mbps per bit. The cache coherent LDT specification, which AMD will be using with its Hammer family of 64-bit processors, takes the bandwidth up to 1.6Gbps (see AMD drops EV6 for Hammer bus). LDT is also being used to finally bring multi-processing to AMD's 32-bit CPUs.

AMD will launch what it's calling the LDT Consortium next month. ®

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