SAN JOSE, Calif. – Breaking with its long history as an x86 PC chip maker, Advanced Micro Devices is formally throwing its hat into the ring of ARM server chip makers. Just how far the chip maker goes down the ARM road, how fast--and how successfully--remains unclear.
The long-time x86 CPU maker will design a 64-bit ARM SoC based on ARM’s own V8-compliant core. It will ship both as a merchant chip and in its own SeaMicro branded systems in 2014.
AMD is not designing its own ARM cores initially. It would not comment on whether it will take an ARM architecture license to design custom ARM cores in the future. The decision to use ARM’s own core design—the Atlas 64-bit core that is a successor to the ARM A15—is apparently driven by AMD’s time-to-market goals.
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The effort marries AMD’s deep server expertise with Sea Micro’s unique interconnect fabric to compete in a market for 64-bit ARM server SoCs that is rapidly getting crowded. Whether the products will help AMD pull out of its slump in the x86 sector remains to be seen.
AMD last week announced the layoff of 15 percent of its employees amid 10 percent revenue declines, expanding its focus on embedded systems. Given AMD's dire situation, it’s surprising the company is not moving even more aggressively into ARM-based servers and custom ARM core designs.