Yesterday AMD announced a completely new architecture aimed at PC gamers that allows two dual-core CPUs and two dual-GPU graphics cards to be combined.
The, platform, called 4x4 (called that because it combines 4 CPU cores with 4 GPUs) links the two CPUs together through the PCI Express link to the dual graphics cards, which can be either based on ATI's Crossfire or NVIDIA's SLI technology. To top that all off, the 4x4 platform will also support AMD's upcoming quad-core desktop CPUs, due out some time in 2007.
This kind of setup, when it comes out, is going to be aimed squarely at high-end gamers who have deep pockets and are willing to dig deep for those few extra frames per second. It's also likely have a price tag that will bring tears to your eyes. Clearly AMD is eager not to lose support in this market area, given their influence. The AMD marketing machine is hoping to build on the success of X2 by taking the step to X2 x 2.
However, reading between the lines, I feel the magic wand of marketing at work. The announcement feels an awful lot like a stop gap. It's clear that AMD doesn't yet have a product that can directly compete with Intel's Conroe CPUs, and this means that AMD are left playing catch up. AMD are taking a gamble with this because it so easily prompts the most logical question, "if it takes two AMD X2 CPUs to complete with Conroe, why not just go Intel and save money?" Also, what happens to any advantage that AMD can gain from 4x4 when Intel pull the same trick and go quad-core? That will leave AMD once again eating Intel's dust.
Again, on a more fundamental level, what's going to be the benefit of running 4x4 for gaming? It's powerful technology, aimed at gamers, but unsupported by 99% of games on the market.
The quad-core announcement for 2007 interests me more. Two dual-core chips means high power usage and massive amounts of heat to get rid of. Combine four cores onto the one chip and many of those problems go away.
4x4 is just a stop-gap until true quad-core is released…