I remember about 2-3 years ago when talk of the Athlon64 was rampant around various hardware and overclocking forums. The Athlon64 or Clawhammer was creating quite a buzz. Leaked benchmarks showed an 800 MHz Clawhammer outperforming a 1.6 GHz Pentium4 in Quake3, which had traditionally been an Intel dominated benchmark. However as the architecture of the chip was becoming known, discussions on whether the A64 would even be overclockable at all were to be found on many forums. People simply didn't know how this new and untested piece of hardware would behave. Could it accommodate adjustments to either CPU multiplier or the system bus or “front side bus” as we had come to accept? Part of the anxiety was that the A64 would not employ a traditional “front side bus” per se, instead the CPU had a revolutionary design that implemented the memory controller on the CPU itself instead of the Northbridge. Therefore, the front side bus or more appropriately the bus that runs from the CPU to the Northbridge was in effect on the CPU itself and not the motherboard as we had been comfortable with. The CPU was then connected to the motherboard via a HyperTransport interconnect bus in place of the front side bus.
To make matters more confusing, we were unsure that since the memory controller was on the CPU itself, would AMD need to redesign the CPU to accommodate higher memory speeds that were due to be released. At the time of development, DDR333/PC2700 was the standard and DDR400/PC3200 was not yet accepted. Would the Athlon64 be malleable to this new specification?
In the end many questions were quickly answered after the Athlon64 was released on September 22, 2003. A few brave enthusiasts were quick to sample this brazen new design, and word spread that indeed you could in fact overclock the CPUs and HTT bus of the systems. Performance motherboard manufacturers are quick studies, and did not forget to implement bios options that allowed users to tune their systems for optimum performance. However, as one of the early adopters I was simply taken aback by the new and confusing list of options listed in bios. Since there was no FSB (front side bus) and instead the platform used HTT bus technology, one would assume that HTT acted similar when overclocked to the traditional FSB. While this is partially correct, one can also not forget there are other variables to consider and technologies to be defined and understood.