The first and last we'll see of AMD dual socket enthusiast platforms.
It's been only a year since AMD launched the Quad FX brand, combining two dual core Athlons and a specially designed motherboard from Asus.
It was meant to compete with Intel's first quad-core processors since, back then, AMD's own quad-core processors were several months away. It was more expensive, used a lot of power and had a lukewarm response. It also didn't perform as well as the cheaper, simpler and more widely available Intel alternative.
It did however cause such a stir that Intel hacked together a server board and a pair of quad core "Clovertown" Xeons into what it branded "V8". AMD's solution was neater and more focused in this respect, but back at Spring IDF this year, we learned that Intel was redoing its V8 platform properly with a custom in-house built board titled Skulltrail
Given the lateness of Phenom and quite clear limits that AMD has found itself at, it's almost unsurprising that when Tech Report
asked AMD about the future update to Quad FX, AMD's reply was that it had essentially canned the project's development.
"The short answer is that while there are still engineering resources focused on future platform offerings that build off Quad FX, the current energy and effort has gone into programs and product initiatives like “Spider” and AMD has discontinued future planning and development of its eight-core enthusiast platform at this time.
We will continue to support customers that have an existing Quad FX with DSDC and are also working on an upgrade path for those customers. While AMD is not actively promoting AMD Opteron processor as a 2P enthusiast solution, we recognized that there are enthusiasts who are looking for two-socket solutions and think an Opteron platform is well-suited to meet that demand at this time."
Those who had invested in the initial Quad FX platform might be feeling a bit bitter about not having an upgrade path. However, surely the platform had always had an inherently limited lifespan: why would you want an enthusiast platform, to then upgrade it with a pair of socket F Phenom FXs on a motherboard that is essentially just a pair of nForce 590 SLI chipsets bolted together. The chipset doesn't support the latest features and enthusiasts want the best they can get, not the just most expensive.
I suppose those who don't want to upgrade the motherboard (and as a result reinstall their OS) but just need more cores might argue that it's worth it. Then again, if the system is so mission critical, a more intelligent purchase would have been a dual socket Opteron or Xeon instead.
As much as my enthusiast heart loves to see cutting edge stuff like that, to be honest, I don't see the cancellation as a bad thing at all - if anything, both Quad FX and Skulltrail are simply technological e-peen by the respective companies. Unless that engineering development finds its way down to consumer boards to make them better for everyone, is it really worth the investment?
Intel can afford this investment - it's not struggling for engineering time, but considering the position AMD currently finds itself in I don't think it could have made a better decision.
Do you agree? Was Quad FX e-peen or jawsomeness? Let us know your thoughts in the forums