AMD May Reconsider Its Opinion About ARM Processors

AMD: x86 Everywhere Does Not Mean ARM Nowhere

by Anton Shilov
05/10/2011 | 11:03 PM

Advanced Micro Devices does not close the doors to ARM and may reconsider its x86 everywhere strategy if the market requirements change drastically. Even though the company is not working on a deal to license ARM technologies, AMD admits that its vision is generally similar to ARM's when it comes to heterogeneous multi-core computing.

 

“Clearly there’s common ground between AMD and ARM [in regards to] balanced computing and the GPU as the key platform pushing the [computing] experience forward, but not at the expense of battery life. [...] We are constantly looking at where the market is headed and evaluating what our customer requirements are,” said John Taylor, a spokesman for AMD, in a conversation with eWeek web-site.

Back in April ARM, a leading developer of micro-processing technologies for low-power devices, recently indicated that it would attempt to persuade Advanced Micro Devices to license its architecture for AMD's chips aimed at handsets and tablets. However, back then Mr. Taylor indicated rather clearly that AMD had no interest to license technologies from ARM.

"It is definitely a misconception to say that ARM has a definite advantage over x86 (in mobile). We believe the APU is basically a piece of silicon that redefines the game. [...] Clearly, x86 executed in the form of an APU has real opportunity and a future in more than one market," stated John Taylor in late April.

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).

But the Sunnyvale, California-based chip designer needs to grow. Tablets and smartphones are the two fastest-growing technology markets these days and AMD's rival Intel Corp. is about to start attacking the market of smartphones with code-named Medfield system-on-chip (SoC) featuring Atom x86 core as well as PowerVR graphics engine. Moreover, the company's 22nm process technology can theoretically cut down power consumption of Intel's x86 chips to the level of ARM-based solutions. In case AMD's x86 chips for ultra-mobile devices will consume significantly more than Intel's, no company will adopt them for tablets or handsets. As a result, it may be a wise idea for AMD to reconsider its opinion about ARM.