And certainly setting up a foundation is the relatively easy part. It is
easy compared making something that is designable, energy efficient and
EASY TO PROGRAM that covers square centimeters of silicon with billions
of transistors and built using 14- or 11-nm design rules.
But Intel's success in the personal computer forced AMD forced to take the long view.
is missing are some examples of success, such as an Apple, Nvidia or
ST-Ericsson HSA engine. That may have to wait on deployment of the
PowerVR Series 6 and the Mali-T6XX graphics cores which are designed to
support more general computing as well as graphics rendering.
should go to AMD's CEO Rory Read who was prepared to roll the dice on
AMD's future, but in their previous state AMD had very little to lose,
except more money. Kudos should also go to the senior executives at ARM and Imagination who were able to set aside graphics rivalries to be prepared to work together within HSA. Will Intel be able to do the same?
Now the difficult business of writing software
and defining software interfaces resumes. It is to be hoped that more
companies will quickly join this initiative. It will need all the brain
engineering the industry can muster, but this looks to be a good start and pointed in the right direction.
Many Smartphone chips are already 'HSA' with a compliment of high speed 32 bit Application processors, multi-thread DSP, video acceleration, low speed 32 bit management processors, vector engines for the modems, acceleration blocks for cryptographic functions, HD video, audio, plus embedded power and clock management. If that isn't HSA, I am not sure what is.
I'm actually a bit surprised this hasn't happened before. AMD currently makes Intel X86 compatible CPUs. but there's no reason they shouldn't make CPUs with ARM cores. (Intel used to, in the Strongarm division they originally got from DEC sold to Marvell.) And AMD won't have any "not invented here" issues with doing so. AMD makes and sells chips, and ARM processors are poised to make a run at markets AMD is active in, so being able to offer X86 and ARM solutions is a compelling vision.
"Even if some of them DO share the vision, commercial competitiveness may persuade them NOT to join HSA on the grounds that differentiation is achieved by working separately or in a different group. Market pressures sometimes do that to technology."
This is part of the problem. The other which is inferred by the success of Intel in the PC business. In the short term it is very compelling not to compete with yourself.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.