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Commentary: Legends in their own times

The PC industry sorely needs both AMD's HyperTransport and Intel's 3GIO technologies, and both are best-in-class for their prospective windows of availability.

By Martin Reynolds, Gartner Analyst

In business, competitors understandably declare war on each other, but in the case of potential standards for connecting chips within a computer, there is no actual competition.

HyperTransport, the standard backed by Advanced Micro Devices and others, is here today, and products based on the technology are shipping now. Its performance beats that of any alternative. It is also scalable--simply adding more bits can make it faster--and simple. It is a parallel bus and so can be implemented in just about any chip architecture.

On the other hand, Intel's contender, 3GIO, remains a concept. The specification isn't finalized, and products based on the technology do not yet exist--and they will likely not appear until at least 2004.

See news story:
Intel, AMD square off over standard
The difference between the two specifications is like the generational and technical difference between a printer port and a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port. Printer (that is, parallel) ports have lots of wires and bulky connectors; USB has just four higher-speed wires and much smaller connectors.

HyperTransport represents the fastest way to connect devices today, and 3GIO will likely not displace it anytime soon. When 3GIO arrives--it is unlikely to become the primary interconnection method for chips until 2010--HyperTransport will become the lower-cost high-performance option suitable for almost any application.

3GIO's designers recognize that current technologies will run out of steam in a few years because of the laws of physics. Signaling will have to move from copper to optical. 3GIO will start on copper and pave the way for signaling limited by optics, not electronics. When that happens, signals will have to travel along just one "wire." The Intel specification will bundle all of its information into a single data stream to form a serial bus, thus following the lead of protocols such as USB and Infiniband.

The PC industry sorely needs both technologies, and both are best-in-class for their prospective windows of availability. Vendors should select them based on timing, cost and performance requirements. PC users don't need to worry about them.

(For a related commentary on the 2001 Intel Developer's Forum, see

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.