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Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Could AMD Drop x86 For ARM?

AMD is currently a fabless chip company and ARM sees it as an opportunity to help AMD better compete with rival Intel by licensing ARM processors and use them instead of the x86 architecture.

"AMD is a successful company selling microprocessors. ARM is in the business of licensing microprocessor designs. It is perfectly natural that we should have been trying to sell microprocessor designs to AMD for about the last ten years. Hitherto we haven't been successful," ARM CEO Warren East said during ARM's first quarter financial results.

"AMD has signaled they are going through a rethink of their strategy, and that must provide a heightened opportunity for ARM. They might use ARM microprocessors in the future and you've got to expect that we would be trying to persuade them of that," East said.

ARM is licensing the Cortex-A8 or Cortex-A9 processors, the Mali graphics processors and plans to rellease the Cortex-A15 multicore-capable processor core.

After selling its mobile graphics division to Qualcomm and spinning off its manufacturing operations to form the beginnings of Globalfoundries, AMD has become a fabless company selling microprocessors, seeking to effectively compete with Intel in the lowest power consumption chips.

ARM and Microsoft are among the keynote speakers at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS), which will be held June 13-16, 2011 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington. According to an AMD's press release, Jem Davies, ARM fellow and vice president of Technology, Media Processing Division, will deliver a keynote about ARM's long history of heterogeneous computing, its future strategy, and ARM's support of standards, including OpenCL.

Microsoft has already announced that it would support its full Windows operating system running on ARM processors.

AMD could possibly consider developing an heterogeneous multiprocessor, which would inlcude both x86 and ARM CPU cores plus graphics cores. Another scenario that could make sense would be AMD to abandon expensive attempts to develop its own multicore x86 architecture in competition with Intel and use ARM's cores.

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