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AMD to combine 64-bit x86 and ARM chip architectures in Project Skybridge

Will design 20nm APUs and SoCs so both chips can fit on a motherboard
Tue May 06 2014, 11:52
A picture of an AMD chip in close-up

AMD WILL UNITE 64-bit x86 and ARM architectures in its chips next year while bringing on board support for Android in a development effort dubbed "Project Skybridge".

AMD revealed the news at its Core Innovation Update press conference in San Francisco on Sunday, saying that it has licensed the ARMv8 chip architecture and will design its own pin-compatible 64-bit x86 and ARM base system on chip (SoC) processors.

"Our innovative ambidextrous design capability, combined with our portfolio of IP and expertise with high-performance SoCs, means that AMD is set to deliver ambidextrous solutions that enable our customers to change the world in more efficient and powerful ways," announced AMD CEO and president Rory Read.

Project Skybridge is a design programme to develop a family of 20nm APUs and SoCs. It will attempt to unite ARM and x86 cores on hardware to make it possible to configure both chips on a single motherboard. AMD is aiming for a 2015 release for these chips.

The 64-bit ARM variant of Project Skybridge will be based on the ARM Cortex-A57 core and will be AMD's first Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) platform for Android. The x86 variant will feature next generation Puma+ CPU cores.

The Project Skybridge family will feature full SoC integration, AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) technology, HSA and AMD Secure Technology via a dedicated Platform Security Processor (PSP).

AMD's combined x86 and ARM computing roadmap will also include K12, a new "high-performance, low-power" ARM core that will take deep advantage of AMD's ARM architectural license and 64-bit design. The first products based on K12 chip designs are planned for introduction in 2016.

AMD said that the market is ready for its new chip designs, as ARM and x86 processor sales are expected to grow to more than $85bn by 2017. The firm said it believes it will be the only company capable of delivering "differentiated solutions capable of addressing the breadth of this market".

It added, "This is the first time a major processor provider has created the IP path to allow others to leverage innovation across both ARM and x86 ecosystems."

As part of the announcement, AMD also demonstrated its 64-bit ARM based AMD Opteron A-Series processor, codenamed "Seattle". Running a Linux operating system derived from the Fedora Project - a Red Hat sponsored, community driven Linux distribution - the chip provides an enterprise class operating environment to developers and IT administrators.

"This Fedora Project based Linux environment enables companies to transition to ARM based servers without the need to integrate entirely new tools and software platforms to their IT environments," AMD said. "This demonstration represents a significant step forward in expanding the footprint of ultra-efficient 64bit ARM processors within the data centre." µ


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