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AMD names first 64bit ARM processor

Posted: 18 Feb 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:64bit? AMD? ARM? CPU?

AMD has named its first ARM-based 64bit server CPU platform, Seattle. The Opteron A1100 series chip is implemented in the 28nm process technology and is expected to be on the market this quarter.

AMD described an Open Compute Project contribution, where it will design a micro-server using the Opteron A-series, in addition to other architecture specifications for motherboards that Facebook helped develop, "Group Hug," an agnostic server board design that can support traditional x86 processors, as well as ARM chips.

The company also said it is seeking to collaborate on creating a software ecosystem around 64bit for ARM-based designs to target essential workloads in web-tier and storage datacentres. The Opteron A-series will be accompanied by a standard UEFI boot and Linux environment based on the Fedora Project, which is distributed by Linux and sponsored by Red Hat.

Suresh Gupalakrishnan, corporate VP and GM for AMD's server business unit, told EE Times that the company is going to offer a development kit with tools and software so that users can port their software to 64bit ARM technology, along with a server board for the Open Compute Project using this particular processor.

This move is spurred by two distinct but converging trends. The first is the rush to mobile, especially smartphones in the mid-range of $50 to $100. The second is the need to store all the data people are downloading and uploading to their smartphones in ever complex and sprawling datacenters. Gupalakrishnan believes that a number of these tasks are best suited for ARM CPUs, including storage, big data analysis and messaging, or "collaboration" as he put it.

"As ARM comes into the server market, its success will depend on the software ecosystem surrounding it," Gupalakrishnan said. "It has to be compatible with existing datacenter infrastructure. It needs stable and predictable functionality. We are bringing our expertise in the x86 server market into the ARM market so that end customers can use ARM and X86 in the same datacenter."

Gupalakrishnan lauded ARM's servers for being especially compact in their implementation.

"It allows us to pack a lot of servers into a given space," Gupalakrishnan said. In addition, ARM is the right choice at this moment for AMD because of the broader range of options it offers. "There are a lot of customers asking for a choice other than x86," he said. "They are looking for a wider variety. Also, ARM allows you to customise processors at a faster rate than with x86."

As for how all of this affects competition with Intel, Gupalakrishnan skirted the question, avoiding mentioning AMD's nemesis by name, but addressing the substance of the rivalry nonetheless with a bold yet tentative prediction.

"We are going to continue making x86 processors," he said. "We project that ARM will have 25 per cent unit volume in the server market in 2019. So that means, even by then, 75 per cent of the market will still be x86 processors."

- Zewde Yeraswork
??EE Times

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