AMD's 4x4: Performance champ or PR stunt?

You know, I think that AMD could be onto something with 4x4 ...

Yesterday AMD held a demonstration session If AMD are willing to dramatically cut the price of FX CPUs then it could be onto something hererevealing more information about the upcoming 4x4 platform.  4x4 is essentially a motherboard that supports two CPUs and equipped to support CrossFire/SLI dual-GPU technology.  With two dual core CPUs installed this means four core, each with access to 2GB of dedicated memory and four GPUs.

When I first heard about 4x4 the first thing that struck me was that it was going to be expensive.  Even after the latest price cuts by AMD, a pair of FX-62s would set you back over $1,600, and that’s before you add in the motherboard or the graphics cards.  However, yesterday AMD said that it has pledged to sell pairs of CPUs suited for 4x4 in a bundle that will cost "well under $1,000".

Now this changes things quite dramatically.  Initially, given the incredibly inflated prices of Athlon 64 FX processors, I couldn't see 4x4 (or "$x$" as some wag referred to it a few weeks back) becoming anything more than a high cost, low volume PR stunt that few could afford and even fewer would buy.  However, if AMD are willing to dramatically cut the price of FX CPUs then it could be onto something here.  The power requirements are likely to be crazy but there is also potential for real performance.  Added to that, 4x4 will have two DIMM slots for each processor, which gives a 4x4 system four high-speed DDR2 channels, dramatically reducing memory bottlenecks.  There's still a cynical part of me that still thinks that this is a marketing trick to sell more CPUs and GPUs and I'll be very interested in seeing benchmark results from 4x4 systems to see what the real-world performance gains are like.

I still think the success of 4x4 is going to come down to one thing … how well AMD balance performance against cost.