AMD introduces HyperTransport technology

"It basically means improved performance in PC and network equipment behind the PC ... eliminating the bottlenecks in the I/O (input/output) systems," said Charles Mitchell, AMD product strategy manager.

HyperTransport is a point-to-point bus technology that offers greater bandwidth, such as from the memory controller to the hard driver controller or PCI (peripheral component interconnect) bus controller, he said. The technology works in servers, workstations, network switches and embedded applications.

Under current circumstances, bandwidth is equivalent to cars being able to use a one-lane bridge. HyperTransport opens up bandwidth to offering two complete lanes in both directions, Mitchell said.

Engineers can design the link in each direction and decide the width of the bus and the clock rate of the system in order to deliver the desired bits and bytes needed, Mitchell said. The maximum configuration is 1.6Gbps.

"Most people will use the 800M transfers and the 1.6G transfers per second," Mitchell said.

A key factor with the technology is that it will let developers make components that interoperate with various processor platforms, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64. HyperTransport makes chips more modular and will allow for the market to grow faster, he added.

AMD has won support from some companies, such as graphics chip maker NVidia, Brookwood said.

"NVidia has been pretty vocal about doing this," he said "They are working on a chipset in (Microsoft's) Xbox."

The NVidia chipset uses an Intel Pentium III chip developed with a north bridge -- the main processor and graphics -- and a south bridge --the PCI slots, audio, modem, integrated Internet controller, USB (universal serial bus) and other components.

"The north bridge needed a high-performance way to talk to the south bridge," Brookwood said. "They (NVidia) will be able to use the same south bridge in both Pentium III in Xbox and (AMD's) Athlons in PCs."

Chips can be used in a wider range of systems, Mitchell of AMD said. A desktop chip can be more easily configured to work as a server or workstation chip.

AMD will seek to push the HyperTransport technology by providing open standards and partnering with industry heavyweights.

Broadcom, Cisco Systems, NVidia and Sun Microsystems. all have said they will use the HyperTransport technology in future products, AMD said. The chip maker also will use the technology in its forthcoming processors. The first third-party products using AMD's HyperTransport technology are planned for later in 2001, the company said.

AMD engineers have been working on the technology for the past three and a half years, Mitchell said. During its development, HyperTransport was known by the code name "LDT" or "lightning data transport," he added.