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rick merritt
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AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
rick merritt   9/10/2013 9:09:35 AM
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AMD gave few details on Hierfalcon. On the face of it, it's hard to see how it will differentiate itself over the Intel Rangley chip shipping today, a 2-8 core 64-bit Atom with cryto and other accelerators for comms systems--let alone what I woulod expect to see in this timeframe from TI, Freescale and others.

In short, I've yet top be convinced ARM is any kind of savior for AMD.

betajet
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AMD should never have given up on the 29000
betajet   9/10/2013 2:58:44 PM
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That was a nice architecture.

junko.yoshida
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
junko.yoshida   9/10/2013 8:52:26 PM
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@rick, I am curious to find out what sort of market share AMD currently has on the communications and storage systems market. Any idea? 

rick merritt
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
rick merritt   9/11/2013 5:48:42 PM
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@Junko: AMD has very small share of the comms market. Intel claimed it has a 10% share. Most of it has been PowerPC, some MIPS and some proprietary. But both x86 and ARM are on the rise here.

junko.yoshida
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
junko.yoshida   9/11/2013 5:59:51 PM
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@Rick, thanks. So, then, the question is how ARM would be helpful for AMD to cultivate the comms market -- which is new to AMD. That's an interesting challenge to say the least.

If there is anyone out there who can help me understand this, please chime in.

rick merritt
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
rick merritt   9/11/2013 6:18:47 PM
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@Junko: The problem for AMD is it becomes the fourth or fifth ARM comms SoC vendor--if not even further behind.

Intel just launched Rangely, an 8-core 22nm SoC with hw accelerators for comms, so there to it is running a distant second.

But I agree: it would be great to hear from some ARM comms SoC vendors and users. What do you think about this latest player and what little we know about Hierofalcon, it's first gambit?

GSMD
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
GSMD   9/11/2013 11:04:29 PM
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Actually till now most of the ARM comms players have been smaller fry. bigger player can grab market share through non technical advantages like easy of availability, larger user community, lower MOQ, no NDA requirement. Try getting datasheets for comm processors from Cavium or Broadcom as a small oem ! I often ended up with Freescale even though there were better parts around simply because You could whip out a credit card and order dev kits or samples. On a tech note, not sure what AMD gains by going ARM. probably marketing and SW Eco system reasons. The x86 ISA decode penalty is a non issue these days. If AMD can move these parts through commodity channels and make their availability ubiquitous, they have a good chance of a 10 -20% market share. But execution s everything and that seems a big ask for AMD these days. Would also help if they went open with their freedom interconnect. What would also be interesting is repurposing the GCN for packet processing, ala IXP/Netronome

sw guy
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
sw guy   9/12/2013 6:44:04 AM
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Sorry, I have no link, but I remember reading a declaration from some AMD guy telling it costs less to developp a SoC with an ARM CPU than with an AMD-tuned x86 one.

Strange, but plausible, assuming AMD spent time to get as most as possible performance once given architecture, which is a different goal than the 'just enough'  rule who drives most SoC definitions.

GSMD
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
GSMD   9/12/2013 6:49:41 AM
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Purely on a technical basis , AMD's ARM choice makes sense. the v8 ISA is easier to implement than x86 and at smaller sizes efficiency wins out. Is AMD planning to use Arm's cores or going custom ? if custom, I wonder how much of the x86 code can be reused ? components like bus, interconnect, bottom part of the execution pipeline, SIMD components should be reusable to a large degree. So should branch code. Maybe it is not that big a deal for them to switch to ARM.

TarraTarra!
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
TarraTarra!   9/12/2013 12:44:35 AM
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@Junko - The only logical conclusion to that question is that AMD feels that ARM provides something that x86 cannot. AMD is a member of the exclusive club of 2 that can make x86 processors so for it to give up all the advantage of the established ecosystem around x86 to move to ARM is a testament that they feel they can compete better with ARM CPUs.

They did try low power CPUs with bobcat but probably found the ARM CPUs to be much better at the low power level. At the high end where it is performance at any cost they will still bring out x86 cpus.

junko.yoshida
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
junko.yoshida   9/12/2013 11:56:20 AM
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@Tarra, yes, in theory, AMD giving up on "all the advantage of the established ecosystem around x86" does seem to indicate that they must have found something more compelling in ARM. The question is "what"?

TarraTarra!
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
TarraTarra!   9/12/2013 3:17:31 PM
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@Junko, That is the multi-million dollar question. Probably the development cost of a new x86 internal core did not result in an advantage in terms of performance/cost/power of an off the shelf ARM core. I am sure the AMD brass did their homework before making the switch.

This does validate what the ARM camp has been claiming in terms of architectural simplicity of ARMv8 architecture and its inherent advantage in building low power processors.

My guess is that AMD's plan is the following:

- Continue to push x86 based processors at the high end of the performance arena in the server and enterprise

- Push ARM based SoCs into markets where AMD has not had much success to begin with - this includes the embedded market as validated by the hiero-falcon announcement and low power servers using the freedom-fabric.

- Integrate their ARM and ATI graphics technology to gain a foothold in the lucrative mobile and eventually ultra-mobile segments.

 

Reasonable thinking in my mind as x86 has not had success in the lower two arenas inspite of Intel trying for so long.

junko.yoshida
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
junko.yoshida   9/12/2013 3:27:52 PM
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@Tarra, thank you. Those are indeed good guesses and sound analysis.

goafrit
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
goafrit   9/12/2013 8:20:45 AM
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@Rick, if that is the case, who controls the other 80% plus market share?

TarraTarra!
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
TarraTarra!   9/11/2013 12:58:18 PM
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Not sure how AMD will differentiate with other ARM providers. Rick, you did not mention X-Gene from Applied. It seems they have similar features in term of core count and interfaces and have silicon today.

 

There are also the existing PPC and MIPS players in this crowded market, do you think ARM or x86 will gain market share there?

rick merritt
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
rick merritt   9/11/2013 5:51:07 PM
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@Tarra: TI, LSI and Freescale are moving their comms SoCs from PowerPC to ARM cores. (Power is on the outs in embedded now.)

X86 has been gaining strength in comms for some time in the control plane. Now Intel is npushing to get int the dataplane with hw accelerators and software kits.

goafrit
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
goafrit   9/12/2013 8:19:57 AM
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>> There are also the existing PPC and MIPS players in this crowded market, do you think ARM or x86 will gain market share there?

AMD using ARM has a real opportunity with the business model of ARM. The challenge they have though is that anyone can do the same. There is no differentiation in this since ARM is open to the world!

goafrit
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
goafrit   9/12/2013 7:22:51 AM
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Sometimes I do forget that we still have AMD. This company is truly trying. My problem has been that AMD has good technology but poor marketing unit. They make nice products but they have a very bad branding strategy.

jaybus0
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
jaybus0   9/12/2013 8:33:49 AM
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I wonder if choice of processor cores will be any more important than choice of other components on the SoC. Rangeley does not have the 10G Ethernet backplane interface. On the other hand, Rangeley does have hardware encryption capable of 10Gbps throughput, 5 Gbps in the 15W part. Rangley also has VT-x and no mention was made of hardware virtualization features of the AMD chip's cores. These things could be more important than the processor core, paticularly for software-defined networking.

rick merritt
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Re: AMD ARM vs. Intel Atom
rick merritt   9/12/2013 7:00:51 PM
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@Jay: Good points on how AMD's Hierofalcon is ahead of Intel's Rangeley in some ways --and needs to be since it will have to compete with a Rageley 2 late next year.

And agreed, as long as the core roughly meets the perf/watt needs and more importnatly is the ISA the OEM/user sw is written for, it's fine. Much of the differentiation is increasingly in SoC peripherals.

Oh, Oh. Isn't that what we used to say about PCs?

aff8899
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Freescale
aff8899   9/12/2013 10:57:20 AM
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I often ended up with Freescale even though there were better parts around simply because You could whip out a credit card and order dev kits or samples. On a tech note, not sure what AMD gains by going ARM. probably marketing and SW Eco system reasons. The x86 ISA decode penalty is a non issue these days. If AMD can move these parts through commodity channels and make their availability ubiquitous, they have a good chance of a 10 -20% market share. moncler jackets But execution s everything and that seems a big ask for AMD these days. Would also help if they went open with their freedom interconnect. 



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