AMD Flexes ARMs
Don Scansen posted on November 05, 2012 | 2086 views

Except for storm news, there was quiet last week following the flurries around the previous two weeks. Both Apple and Microsoft emptied out their stores of hot winds, and Google's announcement was actually postponed because of "superstorm" Sandy. Although dissection - both literal and otherwise - of the new Apple and Microsoft gadgets continued into last week.

The most significant news actually came out of AMD last week. ARM Tech Con was last week, and it helped to bring the media spotlight back onto chip architecture. In time with ARM's event, AMD brought clarity to their announcement from last year that they were taking out an ARM license.

But is it mobile gadget news? AMD has already launched an X86 device for the tablet platform.

AMD has enjoyed past success in the server market - primarily with its more miserly energy consuming Opteron line. So it knows a thing or two about how to make low power chips for servers. The microserver market has attracted a lot of interest as various incarnations of "the cloud" are built out.

Many associated the original announcement of the ARM license last year as foreshadowing of an architecture direction for AMD's mobile chips. For good reasons, ARM is the architecture most often associated with mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. ARM processor IP appears in most devices powering tablets and smart phones with the exception of Qualcomm and -- most recently -- Apple. However, AMD will use X86 designs in its Z60 chips designed for tablets

But even more often, people think of ARM as the low power option. Intel goes to great lengths to suggest that X86 architecture is just as capable at sipping the juice, but there are more than a few designers, engineers and gadget fans supporting the notion that ARM is better in this regard. Now that AMD has announced plans to release a 64-bit Opteron CPU for low power microserver applications in 2014, we can assume that the power consumption of the ARM design was a factor in AMD's decision to an ARM design.

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