SAN JOSE, Calif. – Technologies never die. Like sine waves, they just rise and fall and rise again.
So it is and will be with the Intel x86 microprocessor architecture. What was once a wimpy core among a forest of superscalar and Reduced Instruction Set Computing Architectures, the x86 came to dominate.
The x86 is now poised awkwardly at a peak after one of the greatest rocket rides in high tech history, entering a phase that will someday be described as a decline. It will decline, but it won’t crash and burn. It will live to a ripe old age and maybe someday experience a re-birth.
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That’s certainly what Rory Read believes. The Advanced Micro Devices CEO hopes to go on creating custom x86 processor cores for a very long time.
Along with Lisa Su, Mark Papermaster and others, Read also has been planning for some time how AMD will also make ARM-based processors He telegraphed those plans from his first analyst event when he talked about the importance of ambidextrous SoC architectures.
I asked him if that meant AMD would make ARM-based chips. He evaded the question and said only, “it’s a slow reveal.”
October 29, 2012, marked another point in that slow reveal. In a small conference room in a hotel at the foot of San Francisco’s Bank of America building, Read announced AMD will ship ARM-based server CPUs starting in 2014. They target the rapidly expanding market of mega data centers, the home of the Web.
It was an historic moment I described with tongue in check on Twitter as “The Death of Wintel, Part 2.” Part 1 came a week earlier when Microsoft announced Windows 8, the first version of the mainstream PC operating system to support ARM as well as x86.