AMD Partners With ARM To Sell Efficient Server Chips

Max ‘Beast from the East’ Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope.

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New partner to continue the struggle against Intel in the data centre

US chipmaker AMD has announced plans to licence ARM technology and use it for energy-efficient 64-bit server processors in its Opteron family. The new silicon is expected to go on sale by 2014.

The news was presented by CEO Rory Read at a company event in San Francisco on Monday.

ARM has been successfully making low-heat, low-power chips for mobile devices, and has recently started expansion into data centres. Many analysts predict that its architecture could shake up the server market.

Changing horses

AMD’s current server market share is below 5 percent, with the rest in the hands of its main competitor Intel. Like many other tech vendors, AMD has been hurt by the slump in PCs sales over the past year, due in large part to the troubled global economy and the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets.

The company has been doing badly in the third quarter, with a 25 percent reduction in revenue year-on-year. Earlier this month, AMD announced restructuring measures that will result in a loss of 1,770 jobs, or about 15 percent of its workforce.

The company has already established a relationship with ARM, after announcing in June that it will integrate ARM’s Cortex-A5 processor into future accelerated processing units (APUs), a move that could help AMD’s efforts to expand its reach into rapidly growing mobile device market.

And on Monday, the company unveiled the latest plan to reverse its fortunes – by producing efficient chips for data centres. Speaking at the event, Read said that with the new offering he wants to change the “status quo”. “We will usher in the next era of server computing,” he added.

According to Businessweek, AMD will combine technology purchased from ARM with designs from SeaMicro, a low-power server manufacturer it acquired in March for £210 million. AMD will also continue to design and manufacture x86 server processors.

At the moment, Nvidia, Samsung and Oracle are all developing ARM chips for use in the data centre.

Earlier this month at IP Expo, Boston Limited presented the world’s first ARM-based server. Boston Viridis is built around the Calxeda EnergyCore System-on-a-Chip (SoC) which provides “supercomputer performance” while delivering a 90 percent reduction in energy costs when compared with conventional servers.

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