Platform power

A number of different consumer-aimed platforms exist on the market today, so if you want to know what they're made of read on as Windows explains all.

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  April 12, 2008

A number of different consumer-aimed platforms exist on the market today, so if you want to know what they're made of read on as Windows explains all.

In the world of computing, a platform is essentially a vendor-suggested list of products (or even a product), that can be either hardware or software or sometimes both. You can then use this platform, also known as a framework, as a base to build further upon.

In software terms, you could call an operating system (OS), such as Microsoft's Windows Vista, a platform because once it's installed, it allows you to run other apps and games.

In hardware terms, a chipset, such as the Intel X48 or AMD 790FX, could be identified as a platform because the chipset determines what other hardware you can use to build your PC. This in turn determines the sort of software you can run.

To date both AMD and Intel have released their own individual platforms that consist of multiple components. The most famous example to date is no doubt Intel's 'Centrino', which forms the framework for millions of different laptops.

When it was originally launched, the Centrino platform included a processor from the Pentium-M family, an Intel 855PM core-logic chipset and lastly an Intel Pro Wireless chipset.

Platforms aren't only limited to notebooks however; both AMD and Intel each have frameworks for users interested in building desktop PCs for app and gaming use.

Both AMD and Intel have released desktop platforms in recent years. In AMD's case, its two consumer-aimed platforms are the recently launched 'Spider' and the older 'Quad FX' (also known as 4x4).

On the Intel side of the fence, the firm offers its 'V8' and 'Skulltrail' platforms. The latter was launched in February of this year.

All of these frameworks, at the very least, consist of a processor and a core-logic chipset. In the case of AMD's Spider, the platform also specifies that a graphics card from the firm's Radeon HD 3000 series be present or else the system isn't considered a complete Spider platform.

Platform pros and cons

From an end-user point-of-view, there are a number of advantages in terms of opting for a platform, rather than mixing and matching individual components.

The biggest advantage is that you can rest assured the components that make up the platform are 100% compatible with each other.

This is simply because the firm behind the framework will have spent a great deal of time, and money, testing for bugs or any other issues that may arise from combining that specific set of components.

This means it's far less likely you'll come across a bug or an errata that could bring your machine to a grinding halt.

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