With many-core processing leveling the playing field for microprocessor makers this would be a good time for AMD to focus on system-level issues impacting its processor ICs and let ARM do the heavy lifting in terms of architecture, argues Peter Clarke
It thus becomes possible to read some significance into the presence of Microsoft and ARM executives as keynoters at an upcoming Fusion development conference. The event will run June 13 to 16 in Bellevue, Washington, which is Microsoft's backyard, and include more than 50 technical sessions spanning areas including multimedia, user interfaces, business and high-performance computing and security.
The event might provide a good opportunity to announce the extension of Fusion to accommodate licensed cores such as Cortex-A series cores or Mali graphics along-side x86 cores.
A board-level strategic decision to go with ARM might also fit with the departure of AMD's CEO. When Dirk Meyer quit as AMD CEO in January 2011, reports suggested he was forced out by a board of directors dissatisfied with AMD's lack of chips for the tablet computer and mobile market.
Now it may be that a hard-pressed AMD was simply unable to create designs for all the different sectors and performance profiles in a proliferating PC landscape. But that alone is reason to get off the x86 treadmill and let ARM do some of the heavy lifting. And having missed the tablet computer boom ARM licensing would provide the fastest way for AMD to get a chip to market and make up lost ground.
A licensing move by AMD would, of course, exactly fit with ARM's commercial battle with Intel. Indeed, it would recognize ARM taking over from AMD as Intel competitor-in-chief as well as pushing back on the global chip leader painting the company into a tighter corner.
If it came to the point where the x86 architecture is not worth second-sourcing what does that say about the value of the first-source chips?
Intriguing link @Yankiwi...there is an interesting analogy between Intel, Nokia, Microsoft etc. as large companies that once dominated their markets but now struggling to maintain their dominance...but they still have billions of dollars in the bank so you can't write them off just like that....Arm, Apple and Google might struggle one day too, this is a cycle of good capitalism that is healthy for all of us...Kris
AMD has long experience selling microprocessors into desktop, server and notebook computers. This is something which ARM has never been able to do because of a lack of Windows, until now.
Could AMD help ARM power up Windows-based computers?
Can Radeon GPUs be made compatible with ARM? AMD sold ATI's Imageon GPU technology that was made to measure for ARM, and Qualcomm are now exploiting it as Adreno very aggressively and effectively. So if AMD take ARM licenses, what do they do for GPUs.
License back from Qualcomm? Yuk!
Start from scratch? Yuk!
License Mali? Yuk?
License ARM architecture including Mali? Hmm.
That would allow them to leverage their existing skills to differentiate their products.
Perhaps they could work together with ARM on future GPUs as nVidia say they are doing with CPUs.Just a thought.
Now I see why AMD's CEO. Dirk Meyer leave ... doing business in corporate enterprise market (Opteron: server, HPC) is diff from end-user consumer market (ARM: elec gadget). It'd like asking a traditional dance teacher to dance in the nightclub. But the decision moving to ARM sound logical since Microsoft is also joining the party.
P/S: With exception of new Brazo platform, I think main revenue from AMD's CPU processor did come from server rather then desktop/notebook.