AMD and Intel kiss and make up on next-gen I/O

Working to unite HyperTransport and 3GIO

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AMD's next-generation PC I/O technology, HyperTransport, will almost certainly become a part of Intel's next-generation PC I/O technology, 3GIO, just as we predicted it would.

Staffers at both companies have said they are indeed working to bring the two, rival specifications together, EBN reports today.

As we reported yesterday, AMD is now a member of the Arapahoe Work Group, the consortium of companies working to define the 3GIO spec. And, as a member of the PCI Special Interest Group, AMD earlier this month voted that the body should accept 3GIO as the heir apparent to PCI and PCI-X.

Intel, meanwhile, appears to be holding out an olive branch. "We now want to make sure both interoperate and work together," said Bob Gregory, director of strategic planning with Intel's Desktop Products Group, according to EBN.

"Each [I/O spec.] has its strengths to serve different segments of the market," he added. "There is some overlap in chip-to-chip I/O interface, but we prefer to look at this as complementary rather than competitive."

Of course, this détente is purely pragmatic. Neither company wants to see their respective specifications become the basis for an out-and-out fight along the lines of the EISA vs MCA battle, not least because neither wants to end up the loser.

For Intel, that means embracing a technology that while offering exactly what its own specification will provide, will nevertheless do so at least a year sooner.

And, for AMD at least, there's the fact that 3GIO is broader than its own technology. Says Chris Neuts, AMD's technology evangelism chief, it needs 3GIO for the components HyperTransport doesn't cover, such as add-in card architectures.

"We don't have the resources for this task; it's something Intel and 3GIO are well positioned to handle," he said. "They traditionally deal with the vast numbers of add-on card vendors and can bring these vendors into a high-speed serial I/O interface. But then HyperTransport would interface with these 3GIO add-on cards at other PC system levels."

As we noted t'other day, the HyperTransport Consortium's Web site suggests that some members are looking into this, but moves by Nvidia and ATI - for whom, as designers of add-in cards, knowledge of such a spec. is essential - to join the 3GIO camp suggest that project hasn't achieved much.

Integrating the two specifications should be relatively straightforward, both companies say, since each is ultimately derived from the PCI-X standard. And, if they can be brought together, they will ultimately be subsumed into the next major version of the PCI standard. ®

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