AMD May Start Using ARM Architecture in Its Designs - ARM

ARM to Try to Persuade AMD to Drop "x86 Everywhere" Strategy

by Anton Shilov
04/27/2011 | 09:45 PM

ARM Holdings, a leading designer of low-power microprocessor technologies, said that it would try to persuade AMD to abandon its x86 everywhere strategy and adopt ARM architecture for ultra low-power designs for smartphones, tablets and other electronics of the kind. ARM believes that it is natural for AMD to adopt its architecture in addition to x86 so to serve broader markets.

 

"AMD is a successful company selling microprocessors. ARM is in the business of licensing microprocessor designs. It is perfectly natural that we should have been trying to sell microprocessor designs to AMD for about the last ten years. Hitherto we haven't been successful," said Warren East, chief executive officer of ARM, in an interview with EETimes web-site.

AMD used to sell central processing units (CPUs) based on MIPS architecture called Aalchemy for handset and portable media players after it acquires Alchemy Semiconductor in 2002, but sold the lineup to Raza Microelectronics in 2006. When AMD acquired ATI back in 2006, the company owned license for MIPS CPUs as well as for ARM CPU bus. However, AMD eventually got rid of Imageon and Xilleon product lines and concentrated on its x86 designs. Intel Corp., AMD's arch-rival used to develop ARM-compatible central processing units, but also sold off the division to Marvell. In the mid-2000s the company proclaimed - just line the rival Intel Corp., which used to sell ARM-based chips - x86 everywhere strategy, under which the company plans to offer different x86-based chips for all possible markets.

But ARM believes that its latest chip designs as well as necessity to address markets like smartphones, tablets and other will still make AMD reconsider its position.

"AMD has signaled they are going through a rethink of their strategy, and that must provide a heightened opportunity for ARM. They might use ARM microprocessors in the future and you've got to expect that we would be trying to persuade them of that," added Mr. East.

Officially, AMD claims that it is easier to tune x86-based designs for low power consumption rather than to increase performance of ARM-based chips to the levels of x86 microprocessors by AMD or Intel. Moreover, the company recently said that it had no immediate plans to enter the market of smartphones, but would address the market of tablets with its 28nm accelerated processing units (APUs).

Ironically, Globalfoundries, a semiconductor spin-off from AMD, currently partners with a number of companies, who use ARM processing cores.