It's a small step in a new direction that could end up big for both companies. What it basically boils down is AMD licensing ARM's Coretex-A5 processor design, which it will use in its own Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). AMD is only focused on the security aspect right now, having no interest in abandoning x86 chip design, but who knows where this could ultimately lead, especially with Microsoft's Windows platform finally warming to ARM starting with Windows 8 (RT).
By implementing ARM's TrustZone technology into its APUs, AMD says it will be better equipped to monitor and protect malicious access to sensitive data, protecting its customers at the hardware level.
"With AMD's support for, and inclusion in, the expanding TrustZone ecosystem, consumers and businesses can rest assured their data and content are secured by an industry-standard security solution that spans a multitude of devices and operating systems," said Mike Wolfe, AMD Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. "This example of AMD's ambidextrous strategy, which leverages our history of x86 and graphics innovation while also embracing other technologies and intellectual property, will help drive a more secure computing experience for our consumer and business customers."
If nothing else, this brings AMD's security integration up to par with Intel, which itself offers something similar from its acquisition of McAfee a year ago. You can read more about ARM's TrustZone technology and its system-wide approach to security here.