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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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AMD's 760 chipset

It hasn't been long since the last motherboard chipset release from VIA in the shape of the KT133, but now AMD have their own answer, and it's quite revolutionary to boot

We all recognize "DDR" as "Double Data Rate". It's an abbrieviation that was batted around with gay abandon quite a lot in the months preceeding the release of NVIDIA's GeForce DDR last year, and now it's the sort of phrase that even Joe Public picks up on. At least, that's what AMD are hoping, as with their new 760 motherboard chipset, they're taking the emphasis away from the processing and steadying its targets on memory performance, by introducing support for DDR RAM, in other words, memory capable of bus speeds of up to 266MHz. The two types of memory supported are PC1600 and PC2100, although obviously this value refers to peak bandwidth rather than clock speed. Essentially it's 100MHz and 133MHz memory, the first capable of 1600Mb/s and the second 2100Mb/s. Because AMD's chipset is capable of sending data on the rising and falling edge of the clock signal, it runs at 200MHz and 266MHz. Be aware though that only the very, very latest Athlons (AMD will be releasing newer versions of its TBird processors to support the change) support the 266MHz bus. Thankfully the 760 chipset also supports 200MHz for older TBirds. Other features that the 760 chipset boasts include capacity for up to 4Gb of memory. While absurd for most desktops, when the SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing, in other words multiple CPUs) becomes available on the 760 chipset with later boards, it will become viable for server systems and this 4Gb capacity will become very important. Elsewhere, there's native support for 4x AGP, which affords ludicrous bandwidth to the graphics card sitting in the AGP slot, as well as ATA-100 hard-disk support, which bring it into line with the latest from rival chipset makers Intel and VIA. So where does that leave the 760? As the most advanced home PC platform currently available, we'd say. But just how much of a performance benefit does this DDR memory support offer? Looking at the results The Tech Report are pulling, it can safely be said quite a bit. Even games like Quake 3 are benefiting from the extra data throughput. Their conclusion? The 760 when coupled with PC2100 DDR RAM and a 1.2GHz Athlon will be a definite challenger to Intel's P4 1.5GHz. With a 1.33GHz chip in the offing and other increases proposed, Intel will have a difficult time of it this Christmas. We'll attempt to bring you a 760 board analysis of our own as soon as they become widely available. You can read AMD's official press release on the topic here.