PC Platforms: Looking Back at 2006 and Ahead to 2007

By Loyd Case  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Feature: It's been a banner year for processors, chip sets, and memory. We take a look at 2006, and then gaze into our crystal ball to try to predict what will happen in 2007. (ExtremeTech)

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.com: PC Platforms: Looking Back at 2006 and Ahead to 2007

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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