That said, the embrace of
the ARM architecture will be seen as a huge turning point for the x86
processor company. Only time will tell whether AMD can eke out a
position that differentiates it from many other ARM SoC makers in
embedded systems or the emerging microserver market.
Applied Micro is expected to show at ARM Tech Con
this week the first working version of its X-Gene, an SoC that uses its
own custom V8 core design and interconnect fabric on a single die.
AMD’s design will also be a single chip—including the existing SeaMicro fabric
chip and the new multicore Atlas cores with an on-board memory controller.
Meanwhile, startup Calxeda is already shipping a 32-bit ARM
server SoC with an integrated fabric. It said it will ship a 64-bit
version in 2014.
Marvell also is shipping a 32-bit ARM server
SoC, the Armada XP, being used in systems from Dell and Mitac. Samsung
has hired an ARM server design team, in part with ex-AMD engineers, but
has not announced its plans.
“It seems to me with AMD’s server
competence they would have” taken an ARM architecture license and
developed a custom core, said Patrick Moorhead, principal of Moor
Insights and Strategy (Austin, Texas). “But they still have a pretty
good play here with the secret sauce of their interconnect fabric,”
added Moorhead. “There are only three processor companies with
significant server experience--AMD, Intel and IBM--so this brings a lot
of credibility to the microserver market, and they are moving forward
quicker than some people believed."
AMD is holding a press conference Monday (Oct. 29) to describe its plans.
Lisa Su implies but does not specifically say AMD's 2014 chip will embed the ARM cores AND the SeaMicro fabric.
She says nothing to clarify if this is a system only or merchant chip, too. But the implication is this is also a merchant chip.
From hot-off-the presses AMD press release:
The first ARM technology-based AMD Opteron processor will integrate the AMD SeaMicro Freedom supercompute fabric, the industry's premier high-performance fabric.
Seamicro fabric or servers are used by sub 1% of market today, not sure this architecture is extensible to heavy workload's such as DB systems, in Data Center, majority of there use case is around Web servers. If one wants to do Web servers they can use Multicore ARM server SOC from Calxeda and others coming to the show if market is going to grow types.
So am not sure what advantage AMD has over others?
I think they are done! they cannot kick the bucket to 2014, need to pay bills now.
This is Rory Read's hail mary pass. ARM does make sense for AMD and maybe even in servers eventually but not in the immediate future.
I thought they would likely use the strength of their GPU/APU to come out with low power ARM processors for the mobile/ultramobile markets. That is certainly a huge market.
On the other hand AMD is laying off 15% of its work-force and now designing x86 AND ARM servers. It will be interesting to see how they train their sales force to sell both ARM and x86 processors into servers.
x86 is not their problem, the issue for AMD has been been in execution - remember the performance lead they had with opteron and the big delays in bringing out the bulldozer designs by which time sandy bridge and ivy bridge leap-frogged them.
I don't see how this would change with the same team in place. What they need is a new design team to work on this in isolation if this has to succeed.
I was a young design engineer in AMD's analog products group when founder Jim Giles was still in it. They deleted that product area, and I left.
I rejoined AMD's networking group to design and release a compliant IEEE 802.3 10BASE-2/5 tap transceiver, and supervised the design and release of a 10BASE-T predecessor StarLAN transceiver.
I left AMD again a couple years before they eliminated the networking products division.
I hope AMD finds a way to focus on something other than x86 processors. ARM could be one of those ways.
I'd hate to see them eliminate any more product areas. There aren't too many of them left for the company.
This is like testing the waters before taking the plunge. Perhaps they are not too sure of what to make of the ARM 64bit in server domain, but given their excellence in interconnect fabric and traditional experience in server workloads optimization they should be able to to make it take off. But it all depends on timing and positioning and if they get it right then it could be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel they are looking for.
Could someone clarify the use of terminology a little? Does the term "SoC" as used here just reflect the integration on a single chip of IP that includes more than one vendor, ie ARM plus someone else's fabric IP? It just seems confusing since if the fabric is part of the "system" then it's not really usable as a system until you have a least two of these talking to each other, then it's not really a "SoC" if you see what I mean. Forgive me if I'm nitpicking a bit here!
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.