Earlier this week, we covered AMD's announcement
of its upcoming OpenCL programming conference and how it plans to offer information on making the most of its Llano APU and that processor's capabilities. One of the rumors rumbling around since then has been whether AMD and ARM would pursue any sort of cross-licensing agreement. AMD's director of client products, John Taylor, has since shot down the idea that AMD
might build an ARM-based processor, noting: "We've made a big bet on APUs, which are x86."
AMD may not be planning an ARM core, but the two companies have been making nice for several months. ARM's vice president of media technologies, Jem Davies, is scheduled to keynote the upcoming conference, while ARM CEO Warren East has commented that he could see a potential for AMD using ARM technology. Further stirring the pot is the fact that ultra-low power servers based on the likes of Atom, Bobcat, and possibly ARM Cortex products are coming in the next couple years.
Part of the reason why such rumors sound so credible is AMD's own fault. When the company threw
Dirk Meyer, Marty Seyer, and Robert Rivet out the door
last February, it implied that Meyer, at least, was junked for his failure to support future opportunities in the ultra-mobile/hand-held market. None of the current board members have much experience in the x86 market, they've only been with AMD 2-3 years, and several are from mobile backgrounds as well. The only 'old school' board member left is Bergman, who joined AMD in 2006 as part of the ATI merger. Rather than articulating a new, post-Bulldozer launch plan or providing additional details on the ultra-mobile statements, Sunnyvale clammed up.
We're as dubious now as we were in February with regards to it being a good idea for AMD to make a serious play for the ultra-mobile space until its 28nm manufacturing partners are ready. The best thing the company could do if it wants to lay rumors to rest is publicly announce a product roadmap or even a broadly defined series of goals. As of now, AMD is steaming into port based on Meyer's plans for Bulldozer, Llano, and Brazos. Investors are obviously champing at the bit to see what Sunnyvale plans to do afterwards; thus far AMD isn't talking.