AMD will let computer makers pop specialized coprocessors into sockets that otherwise would house an AMD primary processor such as Opteron or Athlon. It's an expansion of the Torrenza initiative which provides a way for others to connect their technology directly to AMD chips, via the company's HyperTransport interface. The program initially let companies plug in their coprocessors via an external connection called "HTX." Now it is licensing the processor socket design as well.
That means a computer maker doesn't have to develop a separate design if it wants to use a coprocessor--a special-purpose chip for handling tasks such as graphics, mathematical calculations or security. "Now an OEM only has to develop one infrastructure," said Marty Seyer, senior vice president for AMD's commercial business.
AMD is pushing HyperTransport as one of its competitive advantages against rival Intel, but Intel processors once again are competitive, and Intel is working on a HyperTransport rival called the "Common System Interface." It's not yet clear whether Intel will let others directly connect chips to its own via CSI.
AMD expects the first socket-based coprocessors to arrive in 2007, spokesman Phil Hughes said. He declined to reveal payment terms for the licensing.
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