AMD Extends ARM Roadmap


AMD has said it sees half of its revenues coming from non-PC markets by the end of next year, thanks to its ARM-powered ‘ambidextrous computing’ strategy

AMD on Monday laid out the next steps in its “ambidextrous computing” strategy, under which it is offering both x86 and ARM-based systems, as it seeks to tap into high-growth markets such as cloud infrastructure and mobile devices.

Chief executive Rory Read said that by the end of next year he expects half of the company’s revenues to be derived from such new markets, up from a mere 5 percent at the time Read took over the top position in 2011.

ARM Chip lead

Growth markets

The combined market for x86 and ARM systems will reach $80 billion (£50bn) this year and will grow to $90bn by 2018, AMD said at a press conference at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. The market for ultra-efficient ARM-based chips, predominantly used today in mobile devices, is expected to grow with demand for low-power systems in ultradense servers, partly as a result of the growth of cloud services and the expansion of data centre resources that is accompanying it.

AMD’s planned “Project Skybridge” will tighten its integration of x86 and ARM architectures by making the two types of chps pin-compatible, meaning they can both run on the same motherboard. AMD first announced its ARM server plans in 2012 and in January launched the ARM-based Opteron A1100 “Seattle” chip.

Monday’s event featured the first demonstration of the A1100, which uses a 28-nanometre design process and includes eight ARM Cortex-A57 cores. The demonstration showed the chip running the Fedora Project’s Linux distribution for web hosting workloads..

Upcoming chips

AMD said its first Skybridge chips are planned for next year, in the form of an accelerated processing unit (APUs) using a 20nm process. The ARM variant is to be based on ARM’s 64-bit Cortex-A57 architecture, and will be AMD’s first chips adapted to run Google’s Linux-based Android platform. The x86 version will include AMD’s next-generation Puma+ cores and its Graphics Core Next technology.

In 2016, AMD is planning a high-performance, low-power ARM-based “K12” chip developed in-house, based on an ARM-licenced architecture.

AMD last week announced low-power x86 APUs code-named “Beema” and “Mullins” that are aimed at mobile devices, and which include ARM technology running in a specialised security processing unit.

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