AMD will let computer makers pop specialized coprocessors into sockets that would otherwise house an AMD processor such as Athlons or Opterons.
It's an expansion of the Torrenza initiative, introduced in May, 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, said Marty Seyer, senior vice president for AMD's commercial business.
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 (original equipment manufacturer)--say, IBM--only has to develop one infrastructure," Seyer said.
Manufacturers that have licensed the socket technology include IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cray and Fujitsu, Seyer said. Among other things, the technology includes details about how different processors keep track of what data is stored in each others' cache memories, through a feature called "coherent HyperTransport."