AMD Lays ARM License Rumors To Rest:

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News Posted: Fri, Apr 29 2011 4:42 PM
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.
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rav555 replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 12:32 AM

Why does AMD need ARM Holdings? In actual fact ARM needs AMD! ARM Holdings needs a license for ATI Graphics Technology. x86 already occupies the perfomance ceiling that ARM cpu's are evolving to. Further evolving Brazos and Bobcat downward with Radeon graphics is unbeatable. And soon Intel will respond with another Atom derivative but lacking in graphics as we all know that Intel can't design gpu's. The tablet wars will soon be fought on three fronts: Apple O/S (not necessarily ARM), ARM RISC, and Wintel AMD x86.

ARM can not compete in an x86 world until it can compete with x86 on die graphics. Nvidia is going it alone with Tegra II ad nauseum so it is unlikely that they will transfer technology. Nvidia market cap is way beyond ARM Holdings reach however a merger with AMD is probably why ARM Holdings is getting so kissy faced.

What scares ARM Holdings is that the sleeping giants have woken up to the fact that there is money in them thar handsets. And Microsoft, Intel and AMD are all staking out claims.

What makes an x86 mobile cpu attractive is the already established installation base of Microsoft O/S software. Just imagine Office running seamlessly on your handheld, tablet or laptop? Or AutoCAD, or Mathcad or Catia?

Apple doesn't count as they always go it alone god bless em. Steve jobs did something that Bill Gates could not do; build an operating system that people love. That's what sells the Macs, iPADS and iPhones.

ARM cpu's are not bought for performance they are bought because stuff looks good on a handset.

When was the last time ANYONE benchmarked an ARM Holdings cpu?

Looking good means graphics. And lets face it the best graphics design team and portfolio is AMD (ATI). And please do not mention GTX 590!!! That is vapourware, it doesn't exist. Nvidia can't build it so that is why it is not available.

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p3ngwin replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 7:03 AM

"ARM can not compete in an x86 world..."

they won't have to, the world will turn away from x86.

Microsoft releasing Windows 8 on ARM together with all the multitude of linux flavours, including Android, etc assure ARM a bright future while x86 desperately tries to shake itself of the shackles of it's legacy instruction compatibility issues.

even Microsoft realises the future lies in massively parallel cores of irreducible complexity where performance is scales by adding more cores, something AMD is realising too with it's Bulldozer "cores/module" architecture.

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/16-core-Atom-SoC-Dileep-Bhandarker-Xeon,12102.html

beefy CPU's are a dead end, the future is massively parallel homogeneous processors, no more dedicated CPU's or GPU's. INTEL knows this, and tried miserably with Larabbee to achieve this truth.

AMD has a better chance with it's CPU and GPU expertise, but ARM is ahead of the game as it is the best company right now that is right where the hardware needs to be, in portable devices that run OS's like Android and Linux.

ARM has it's own CPU and GPU architecture, currently called MALI, and like AMD, is in a position to make the agnostic processors of tomorrow that all our devices will run on.

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Joel H replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 12:10 PM

P3ngwin,

I can't tell if you're trolling or badly confused.

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GLiu replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 12:50 PM

@rav555

One quick question..Do you really how ARM works?? ARM provides license and processor design and sell them. They DO NOT sell or product their product directly. U will see tones on ARM CPUS in for example NVIDIA Tegra, TI OMAP SNAPDRAGONS A4 A5 ....etc etc *1000 . THere is no way ARM need ATI's license. And the point wether ARM can compete with x86 does not rely on Graphics. And NVIDIA is also noticing PC market deciling and it is moving away from pure gaming market. What NVIDIA is doing is a "one fits for all" GPU. a GPU that remains competitive in gaming market which dominates the professional Gfx market and GPGPU market. So yea, maybe ATI is building the best GAMING card. BUT NVIDIA definitely build the best GPU

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GLiu replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 12:53 PM

@Joel H

Do you mean rav555?.... BTW..P3ngwin seems to be making more sense..although I dont agree with some of his opinion

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