AMD Voices Support for Arapahoe

Posted By Van Smith

Date: August 7, 2001

An AMD spokesman has confirmed to VHJ that his company supports Arapahoe, a next generation PCI replacement pushed by AMD's archrival, Intel.


AMD supports 3GIO

AMD spokesman Damon Muzny told Van's Hardware Journal, "AMD voted for 3GIO" because it appears to be appropriate for "the next generation of PCI technology."  The Arapahoe interconnect architecture is also referred to as "3GIO," an abbreviation for "Third Generation I/O."


HyperTransport and Arapahoe compliment rather than compete

Despite depictions in the media directly pitting AMD's HyperTransport (HT) against Arapahoe, HyperTransport was never intended to be the next generation of PCI.  According to Muzny, HyperTransport "was never submitted to the PCI-SIG for that, and HT will, in fact, compliment 3GIO."

Mr. Muzny continued:

The determination of the next generation PCI I/O interface doesn't affect HT's future, as it [HyperTransport] continues to be implemented by providers of network communications, computer, hi-perf [high performance] embedded applications, etc. That's why it's not really valid to compare HT to 3GIO.

HT is a high-speed, high-perf, point-to-point link for integrated circuits, developed to enable chips inside of high-perf compute devices, networking and communication devices communicate with each other faster than with existing technologies. HT provides an extremely fast connection that compliments PCI, PCI-X, Infiniband, 10Gb Ether, as it will compliment the next gen of PCI technology.

Like Arapahoe, HyperTransport is a high speed serialized interconnect.  Widely viewed as having considerable market momentum, HyperTransport has itself gained broad industry support.  One of the first applications for AMD's high speed interconnect is in NVIDIA's upcoming nForce DDR SDRAM chipset where HyperTransport provides an 800 MB/s link between the North and South Bridges.  The current HyperTransport specification provides for bandwidth as high as 16 GB/s in 32-bit wide implementations.  In addition to in-the-box chip-to-chip connections, HyperTransport has also been demonstrated as a low cost, high speed clustering technology connecting box-to-box.


Don't bury PCI yet

Although initiated by Intel with much fanfare at the last Spring IDF, according to a recent press release the Arapahoe 1.0 draft specification will be hammered out by promoter companies "together with additional key developer companies."  This draft will then be turned over for final review to the PCI-SIG, the special interest group in charge of the still developing PCI standard.

According to Roger Tipley, president of the PCI-SIG, the venerable PCI architecture is not dead yet:

PCI lives on in "Arapahoe."  While today's PCI will fulfill the needs of local I/O devices for many years to come, a broad range of applications will see the benefits of choosing the Arapahoe interface.  Arapahoe's scalability expands the list of hardware solutions that will gravitate to PCI-SIG technologies, and PCI-SIG adoption will help establish Arapahoe as a highly successful industry standard I/O interface.

Further information on the Arapahoe draft is expected at the Intel Developer Forum later this month.