-"Obviously, by context, I guess it means that the higher series processor are able to perform more separate tasks, independent of one another? Well Windows already is a multitasking environment, so what the devil does that 1-way, 2-way, 8-way, actually mean from the hardware standpoint. Can someone post what that actually means, giving examples of what can be done with it. Does it allow jobs that can't be accomplished otherwise or does it simply make for better efficiency or what?"
Like iatacs19 said,
The 100, 200, and 800 series processors are identical in terms of their functional abilities except in one sense: The number of "coherent" Hyper Transport links they have. What all that means:
Hyper Transport is AMD's version of Intel's Front Side Bus now. It is the link through which the Processor communicates to the Southbridge, and any other chipsets or expansion cards you might possibly have on your computer.
Essentially, each Opteron has three Hyper Transport links (100's, 200's, and 800's) The difference is the number of coherent links. A coherent link is one that can talk to another processor or IO devices. A non-coherent link can only talk to IO devices (Input-Output - Southbridge, etc...)
So, a 100 series has 3 non-coherent Hyper Transport links.
A 200 series has 1 coherent and 2 non-coherent Hyper Transport Links. (Enabling it to be placed on a motherboard with another 200 series processor for a dual processor machine. The two Opteron's coherent links talk back and forth and the other non-coherent links talk to all the other stuff.)
An 800 series has 3 coherent Hyper Transport links. (Because of processor and motherboard architecture, you only need three coherent links to have 4 or 8 processors since the processors only need to talk to 1 or 2 of the other processors to work as a multi-processor machine. Think of it like a gossip line. Processor 1 talks to Processor 2. Processor 2 tells processor 3 & 4. Processor 3 tells... You get the picture. This way each processor still has a link to communicate to "other stuff" hooked up to the motherboard. You could configure a setup (I assume) to have a processor only talk to other processors, I'm just not sure what the point would be. Someone on these forums probably has and thinks it is a great idea though so I won't go farther than that. I'd be overstepping my limited knowledge.) http://www.amd.com/us-en/asset...t_ty..._docs/23932.pdf
That is a PDF file on AMD's website that does an ok job of explaining. Look at the Hyper Transport part and read as follows: 100 series = SP (single processor) 200 series = DP (dual processor) 800 series = MP (multiprocessor) Copy it into your browser to visit it.
Remember, in terms of processing power the 150, 250, and 850 are all equal as equal can be.
So what does all this mumbo jumbo buy you?
Well, just because Windows is a "Multitasking environment" doesn't mean that it can't get ALOT better. (Play around with a MAC for a few weeks and you'll see how software can greatly improve multitasking abilities all on its own - one word, expose) But, your processor has a limited amount of processing power no matter how new-fangled it it. And, if you run enough tasks, it will start to slow down alot! Essentially, a multi-processor system gives you two processor's resources to use instead of just one. So, from a hardware sense, you have that much MORE processing power at your multitasking disposal. Even intel has bought into the game with their Hyper Threading (Not to be confused with Hyper Transport!
technology. Hyper Threading turns one "real" processor into two "virtual" processors. Essentially, it allows two instruction sets to be sent to the one CPU at a time. This makes some multitasking and a few SMP-aware (SMP-aware = capable of using more than one processor at a time) programs run faster.
HOWEVER, this doesn't always mean great things for all people. For example: Games, Microsoft Office, and 90% of all programs out there are not yet SMP-aware. As such, they can only use all of one processor and the other goes unused. (Yikes! All that money and no gain?) But hold on. You see, you might have one of those programs that can use more than one processor - call your rep, or the software company to find out. Or, maybe you don't. But, windows xp allows you to set "processor affinity" if you have more than one processor. (processor affinity = which processor particular programs run on) So say you're like me and have a 3D rendering software that isn't SMP-aware. Say you're rendering an animation on one processor...and playing Halo-2 on the other one. You are rendering an animation at full speed and playing a game with no slow down at the same time! (You might think this is a silly excuse, but I also have SMP-aware softwares to run too! Oh, and think of this. Windows XP is using 2-5% of my first processor most of the time. So if I ran my render on that processor it could only use 95% of my processing power. But, if I put it on my other processor it can use 100%! I know, it's only 5%, but when your animation takes 3 weeks to render, 5% is a big deal.
Now, you can substitue any one task, or a lot of little tasks, for either example I gave. Say you want to run through a powerpoint presentation, burn a dual layer dvd, and have a couple of videos playing all at the same time. No problem. Got it?
So, yes it allows things that couldn't be accomplished with one processor. (mainly by virtue of doubling the raw processing power) And it does do some tasks more efficiently. (the 5% gain I get on my single-processor software)
And the good news is that it is only getting better. (P.S. I don't work for AMD)
the 940 socket (the one that fits opterons) is going to be around a bit longer, in fact the dual core processors (read two processors on one chip) will fit into the same socket. So you have a good upgrade path! And, a dual socket board can become a 4 processor system in a few months when the dual-cores come out!
= Great upgradability!
the new nForce 4 chipset from Nvidia gives a lot of new options to motherboard makers using opterons. Options that are not available to Intel's Xeon processors at all! So, Opteron is only going to be making greater leaps and bounds ahead of Intel. (If you want the details visit Nvidia - they have a decently honest marketing bit about it. Also, www.Anandtech.com has a good article about it (you'll have to find it since it is a few weeks old)
= Great performance!
Oh yeah, and the 64bit stuff. As it now stands Intel's EMT64 technology takes a pretty big performance hit running in 64bit mode. A performance hit that AMD's 64bit technology doesn't have. So, unless intel gets it's act together, when Windows 64 hits the shelves (a few months) most of the AMD processors will almost double their performance while intel chips will lag even further behind.
= Great performance and upgradability!
So have fun with your bad self! (And before you buy a multi-processor system ask people about "matching steppings and revisions" - it will save you a lot of headaches.)
Iwill Zmax DP SFF Barebones kit... (300W PSU, 8 USB, 1 FW, etc...)
Dual AMD Opteron 275's | 2 Gigs (2 Dimms 1024Mb) Patriot RAM 3-3-3-8
WD Caviar 80 Gig HDD - System
WD Raptor 74 Gig HDD
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 256
NEC ND-3520A Dual Layer DVD±RW | Mitsumi Floppy/Card Reader combo