The PC hardware world is abuzz with today’s announcement from AMD stating that they will begin production of 64 bit ARM processors for servers beginning in 2014. These SOCs will be purely for the server market – we won’t be seeing anything like Nvidia’s Tegra chip, which combines ARM with an Nvidia GPU, at least for the time being.
You can read all about that in the full press release after the break, but the real question is, what does this mean for us PC users? Are AMD abandoning the desktop CPU?
The answer is no. AMD is not abandoning the desktop market. That is why they call their strategy “ambidextrous”. They plan to operate as a full x86 CPU provider as well as a custom ARM chip provider for enterprise workloads.
Things are certainly looking better for AMD since last week. Their Piledriver based desktop CPU is currently competitive with Intel (with the caveat of higher power consumption), and now they have something that could potentially bring in a lot of cashflow. But the key is, they aren’t ditching the PC user, and they should continue to keep Intel on its toes.
Full announcement after the break:
AMD Changes Compute Landscape as the First to Bridge Both x86 and ARM Processors for the Data Center
Company to Complement x86-based Offerings with New Processors Based on ARM 64-bit Technology, Starting with Server Market
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Oct. 29, 2012 – In a bold strategic move, AMD (NYSE: AMD) announced that it will design 64-bit ARM technology-based processors in addition to its x86 processors for multiple markets, starting with cloud and data center servers. AMD’s first ARM technology-based processor will be a highly-integrated, 64-bit multicore System-on-a-Chip (SoC) optimized for the dense, energy-efficient servers that now dominate the largest data centers and power the modern computing experience. The first ARM technology-based AMD Opteron processor is targeted for production in 2014 and will integrate the AMD SeaMicro Freedom supercompute fabric, the industry’s premier high-performance fabric.
AMD’s new design initiative addresses the growing demand to deliver better performance-per-watt for dense cloud computing solutions. Just as AMD introduced the industry’s first mainstream 64-bit x86 server solution with the AMD Opteron processor in 2003, AMD will be the only processor provider bridging the x86 and 64-bit ARM ecosystems to enable new levels of flexibility and drive optimal performance and power-efficiency for a range of enterprise workloads.
“AMD led the data center transition to mainstream 64-bit computing with AMD64, and with our ambidextrous strategy we will again lead the next major industry inflection point by driving the widespread adoption of energy-efficient 64-bit server processors based on both the x86 and ARM architectures,” said Rory Read, president and chief executive officer, AMD. “Through our collaboration with ARM, we are building on AMD’s rich IP portfolio, including our deep 64-bit processor knowledge and industry-leading AMD SeaMicro Freedom supercompute fabric, to offer the most flexible and complete processing solutions for the modern data center.”
“The industry needs to continuously innovate across markets to meet customers’ ever-increasing demands, and ARM and our partners are enabling increasingly energy-efficient computing solutions to address these needs,” said Warren East, chief executive officer, ARM. “By collaborating with ARM, AMD is able to leverage its extraordinary portfolio of IP, including its AMD Freedom supercompute fabric, with ARM 64-bit processor cores to build solutions that deliver on this demand and transform the industry.”
The explosion of the data center has brought with it an opportunity to optimize compute with vastly different solutions. AMD is providing a compute ecosystem filled with choice, offering solutions based on AMD Opteron x86 CPUs, new server-class Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) that leverage Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA), and new 64-bit ARM-based solutions.
This strategic partnership with ARM represents the next phase of AMD’s strategy to drive ambidextrous solutions in emerging mega data center solutions. In March, AMD announced the acquisition of SeaMicro, the leader in high-density, energy-efficient servers. With today’s announcement, AMD will integrate the AMD SeaMicro Freedom fabric across its leadership AMD Opteron-, ARM- and x86-based processors that will enable hundreds, or even thousands of processor clusters to be linked together to provide the most energy-efficient solutions.
Quotes from Industry Leaders:
“With its planned 64-bit ARM solutions, AMD brings the experience of a proven enterprise CPU provider to the ARM ecosystem,” said Jimmy Pike, vice president and senior fellow of the Dell Data Center Solutions group. “ARM has the promise of being a serious player in areas like web front-end servers and as a worker node in a Hadoop environment. AMD’s opportunity is to deliver serious value in performance-per-dollar and performance-per watt-where low-power server platforms running massively scale out workloads can shine. The availability of 64-bit ARM solutions is an essential milestone needed to accelerate enterprise adoption of this technology.”
“In order to handle evolving workloads, business demands and the information explosion, enterprises are looking for flexible compute solutions that drive optimal performance and reduced energy consumption,” said Paul Santeler, vice president and general manager, Hyperscale Business Unit, Industry Standard Servers and Software, HP. “As part of HP’s Pathfinder Program, AMD and HP are continuing their decade-long relationship to innovate power-efficient computing with the development of a rich ecosystem of highly energy-efficient, dense server technology.”
“The ecosystem for hyperscale computing is starting to take shape as workloads quickly evolve. Red Hat and AMD have been at the forefront of this movement, and today we are announcing our collaboration efforts to support the next-generation ARM-powered 64-bit architecture, ARMv8,” said Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architect, Red Hat. “This is only the first step, and we’re excited about sharing our enterprise Linux expertise with AMD and the ecosystem as they are striving to become a disruptive force for choice in the emerging ARM-based server market. As part of this effort, Red Hat’s ARM team is looking forward to supporting AMD’s processors in a future release of Fedora, our community-powered Linux distribution.”