PC Platforms: Looking Back at 2006 and Ahead to 2007

Consider the desktop personal computer. Form factors have changed, new CPUs have emerged, and more-advanced chip sets have arrived on the scene, but the fundamental PC platform remains little changed. You still have core logic, a CPU, separate memory, and an underlying system board. It’s true that AMD moves the memory controller onto the CPU, but that alters the overall balance only slightly. Even so, the PC platform is evolving, and the PC of 2008 may look quite different from today’s familiar, boxy unit.

Processors and chip sets are becoming increasingly intertwined, though Intel’s dream of tightly coupled chip sets and CPUs hasn’t taken root yet. Most of the synergy between processors and chip sets has been marketing. This past year has been a busy one for the PC platform, but 2007 looks to be more of a transition year for PC hardware, as Vista emerges to shape the future of personal computer hardware.

Let’s take a look at what happened in 2006 with the fundamental PC platform and then try to forecast what will happen in 2007.

As 2006 began, AMD fired the opening salvo in the PC wars, launching the Athlon 64 FX-60. The FX-60 was the first dual-core Athlon 64 to sport the FX moniker—nomenclature reserved for the cream of AMD’s CPU crop. Clocking at 2.6GHz, the FX-60’s presence was the harbinger of a time when mainstream and high-end CPUs would sport more than one core, with single-core CPUs relegated to the low end.

The FX-60 easily outperformed any Intel CPU existing at the time. It even outpaced Intel’s Pentium Extreme Edition 965, although that chip clocked in at over a gigahertz higher than the FX-60.

The old NetBurst architecture was clearly at its last gasp, because of Intel’s inability to hit the higher clock frequencies that the company had predicted only a year earlier.

Read the full story on eWeek: PC Platforms: Looking Back at 2006 and Ahead to 2007

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