Any significant push into servers almost demands a tighter partnership between the two processor companies.
SAN FRANCISCO--Almost surely Simon Segars will take the ARM TechCon
stage Tuesday (Oct. 30) and open the ARM kimono wider on the
company's 64-bit architecture and server strategy. After all, it's
been a year since the company first described its 64-bit
push at a high level.
And in the water-torture world of semiconductor technology
announcements, nothing ever comes all at once.
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"I've heard that [64-bit] rumor," Segars, executive vice president
and general manager for ARM's Processor and Physical IP Divisions,
said in an interview this week. Over the phone, you could sense a
wry grin, even as he refused to elaborate.
The program's keynote blurb teases, "This presentation will review
the latest advancements in processor and process design and provide
insight into what the future holds, including some exciting new
achievements in CPU design and some unique perspectives from ARM partners."
Almost certainly we'll get to hear more tidbits on 64-bit work
happening with Calxeda,
But what about AMD? Will Segars emerge on stage "ARM in arm" with
AMD CEO Rory Read or AMD CTO Mark Papermaster? Last week, Read
announced a 15-percent workforce reduction at AMD and sketched out a
strategy of reusing cores and using third-party IP providers to push
aggressively and cost-effectively into the SoC space.
Taking nothing away from Calxeda and Cavium and AMCC, ARM and AMD
make logical and spooning bedfellows in the server segment. Each
needs the other to exploit server design trends. AMD needs the
technology; ARM needs the channel. AMD would love the low-power play
in servers; ARM needs to expand into a deep, non-mobile market in
the coming years, and 64-bit means more now in computing design than
it does in mobile design, where ARM acknowledges it won't take hold
for a decade.
Over time, ARM has danced closer and closer with AMD. The two tied up on an ARM license around the TrustZone technology, and both are intimately involved in the AMD-spawned Heteregenous
Systems Architecture (HSA) Foundation, which seeks to
make it easier for software developers to take multiprocessing
advantage of modern complex processors.
I asked Segars about AMD, and his answers were surprising in that he
rejected nothing out of hand.
On using third-party-IP providers, specifically ARM: "Anyone who
wants to diversify and improve and engineering efficiency and reduce
design time looks to reuse," Segars said. "That's what Rory is
describing and that's the way any modern company does it."
On announcing a tighter partnership with AMD: "There's a number of
things we're talked publicly about with AMD. We're working with them
on HSA. We're a partner there."
Cagey, for sure, but it suggests something's possible.
We may find out a little bit more next week.
demand driving ARM revenue
roadmap leads to 64-bit CPU in 2014
signs 64-bit deal with Cavium
ARM, Imagination, TI, MediaTek form HSA group