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AMD And SLI Rise Again?

Generally, platform reviews accompany new processors. But in the case of AMD’s 990FX chipset, there’s both good and bad news.




The good news is that AMD still has a fantastic compatibility story. So, 990FX supports today’s Socket AM3 processors and the upcoming AM3+ CPUs based on the Bulldozer microarchitecture.

The bad news is that those Bulldozer-based chips are still not ready. Processors based on the B0 stepping are in the hands of motherboard manufacturers. But they’re all telling me that performance is nowhere near what they were expecting, and it’ll take another stepping to fix them.

According to AMD, it’s incrementing the platform name to clarify compatibility with Bulldozer-based processors. When you see a board that centers on 990FX, the company wants you to know that its upcoming AM3+ CPUs are drop-in-compatible (again, 990FX-based boards will also take existing AM3 chips).



More pertinent than any AM3+ discussion, at least today, is the addition of SLI support on 990FX boards. AMD came up with a way to show its customers how to get the most out of an upcoming processor without complicating the upgrade process. Enthusiasts who actually can be troubled to do their homework know that 890FX/990FX and AM3/AM3+ share mechanical compatibility, though it’ll take 990FX and AM3+ to exploit Zambezi’s power/frequency management features. No doubt 800-series boards will start becoming scarcer as the industry gears up to support AM3+.

As we all wait to see what the company’s torch-bearing architecture can do, motherboard manufacturers are throwing us a little bone by licensing Nvidia’s SLI technology for use on 990FX-based platforms. Is the capability worth ditching your old 890FX board and buying an upgrade?

That depends on how loyal you are to Nvidia. Now that AMD’s CrossFire performance is much-improved, there’s no real reason to shy away from multi-card configs from either vendor unless your trepidation comes from multi-card configs themselves.


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