Many people have been eagerly awaiting AMD's upcoming 4x4 platform. It will be the first time that the company has really had a chance to even take a swing against Kentsfield, and there's little question that a lot is riding on the platform's success. With such an important release, then, it's a bit curious that AMD will only be allowing ASUSTek
to have a crack at the technology.
AMD's 4x4 technology is an interesting frankenstein to begin with. Dubbed the "Quadfather," it consists of two dual-core Opteron Socket-L1FX chips along with other meaty hardware (such as the requirement that all four DDR2 slots be used for optimal performance). The platform sports two 680a northbridges and four PCIe slots (2x16x, 2x8x) intended for running Quad-SLI.
Apparently, the entire 4x4 platform will be produced solely by ASUSTek - much to the chagrin of AMD's other board partners. This leaves many of AMD
's closest allies (such as Sapphire) out in the cold. Aside from just the PR nightmare of choosing only one jockey to ride your one horse, consumers will be limited to only ASUSTek's vision of what 4x4 can mean. If the board gets sold mostly to workstation-level users, enthusiasts could find it a bit lacking for their tastes.
If there's any question as to how many differences there can be in a platform, just ask in the forums as to what everyone's favorite AMD Socket 939 board is - there are almost as many answers as there are options. As the technology matures, board partners can tweak the platform to their own specific markets like gamers, enthusiasts, workstation users, etc.
Though ASUSTek is well-known for making high-quality boards, is this lack of choice a good thing? Or will consumers end up feeling this as much as the board partners who got passed over? Tell us your thoughts in our forums