[Read more in our update to this article, AMD 760 Revisited: Overclocking the Duron - ED]
Just about a year ago, in a galaxy far, far away, double-data rate (DDR) memory bridged the gap between theoretical and attainable performance for then-modern 3D accelerators. Since that time, DDR memory has become commonplace – every video card worth its weight in unagi (pricey freshwater eel sushi) uses it. Why? Although CPUs, FPUs and GPUs are all getting faster, the data being processed by these powerful new ICs is still moving at the same speed. To put it simply, we run out of memory bandwidth. The result on a video card is obvious – real-world performance is slaughtered as the graphics become more lifelike. Memory bottlenecks are not quite as easy to pinpoint on a system level, however. A prime example is Intel's Celeron processor mated to a BX platform, which under most circumstances is severely limited by system bandwidth.
AMD has taken an innovative approach to smoothing out possible bottlenecks. With the introduction of the Athlon came a whole new supporting chipset, which we have come to know as the AMD 750. One of the primary benefits to the 750's architecture is a 100MHz DDR (200MHz effective) front side bus paired with support for 100MHz memory. This combination has worked well up until this point, but why stand in the way of evolution? Since the inception of DDR on the video card market, it has almost seemed inevitable that one day, double-data rate would find its way into system memory.
Ladies and gentlemen, that day is upon us. AMD is finally debuting the 760 chipset, which is, for the most part, an evolutionary step up from the 750 chipset we have been enjoying for the past year or so. Boasting a faster system bus, support for DDR memory, and a brand new South Bridge, AMD has set themselves up to not only surpass their first-generation offering, but also the current performance Athlon chipset, VIA's KT133.