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AMD Networking Hardware

AMD Licenses 64-bit Processor Design From ARM 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the seeing-which-way-the-wind-is-blowing dept.
angry tapir writes "AMD has announced it will sell ARM-based server processors in 2014, ending its exclusive commitment to the x86 architecture and adding a new dimension to its decades-old battle with Intel. AMD will license a 64-bit processor design from ARM and combine it with the Freedom Fabric interconnect technology it acquired when it bought SeaMicro earlier this year."
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AMD Licenses 64-bit Processor Design From ARM

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The panel discussion that accompanied the AMD news conference was absolutely painful to watch. The only thing I learned is how completely clueless the CxOs of the 'cloud computing era' really are. Seeing company officers from Dell, RedHat and Facebook drool allover themselves like that was yet another painful lesson that the fratboys of the world have turned the tech industry into their drunken biatch.
    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:13AM (#41814429) Journal

      What's sad is how bad the former CEO fucked AMD [insideris.com] by doing a total slash and burn on their engineering and R&D and pushing for cheaper automated layouts that simply don't cut it. The Athlon64 guys? GONE. The Cryix guys? GONE. they pretty much have their backs against the wall because the former CEO burned the fucking company to get a short term bounce, which I'm sure he cashed out on.

      And anybody who thinks ARM will save them might be interested in some magic beans I have for sale, as ARM frankly doesn't scale very well and from the early looks ARM64 isn't gonna be really any better for power than the CULV Intel chips while having a HELL of a lot worse IPC. Frankly, and this is coming from someone who has been building AMD systems exclusively for awhile now and is still hanging onto AM3+ for all its worth, the only real selling point they had was "bang for the buck" but by burning R&D and killing Thuban the former CEO left them holding the bag without shit besides Bulldozer, which we all know blows too much power, is too damned hot, and frankly their octocores get stomped by Intel quads on IPC while using a third of the power.

      I have to agree with the engineer in that link, they should have done the same thing Intel did with Core, go back to their earlier K8 designs and start from there just as Intel did with P3 mobile but now they just don't have the money or the time. I truly hope the Athlon64/Apple A6 chip designer they hired back can come up with a design to save the company because right now? Right now they really got nothing. Hell the former CEO even pulled the plug on Krishna, which would have been a sub 20w quad core bobcat, which is why all we're seeing now is minor speedbumps on a 3+ year old design. I swear they got fucked raw by bad management and I only hope they pull through. Maybe if they would have done this 4 years ago they could have the niche Nvidia now holds, but now? Its just not enough.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I completely agree (although the Cyrix guys weren't a part of AMD if I recall correctly, they're now Via).

        I don't get why Via and AMD don't do any collaboration. Via seems to have decent CPUs and some pretty bright sparks in their CPU design division but they use fucking awful graphics chipsets. Or Via and Nvidia for that matter.

        • It's been a while, but wasn't VIA responsible for the really screwy AMD chipsets that used to make people curse under their breathe?

      • by lightknight (213164) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:41AM (#41815097) Homepage

        Indeed. The one order the CEO can give to save the company is this: "Magical turn-arounds for companies who have been f*cked only happens in textbooks and fair-tales; as such, all resources for CPU design will go into creating a Phenom III with 12 cores and PCI-Express 3.0 and an Opteron design which employs liquid cooling (for the short term), as we are going to give it a major Mhz boost on top of the extra cores / cache we are going to staple on."

        Getting involved in the already overgrown ARM market shows nothing but lack of vision. "We're going where everyone else is going, that'll be profitable!" You are going to be *that* guy who shows up late to the party, and wonders why all the booze is gone. Seriously, how do you mismanage stuff this badly? You're a CPU company, and you come up with the brilliant plan that despite being a major competitor in the x86 market, you're going to fix things by buying an oversubscribed design for a CPU in a market that...recursion error.

        Think of it being like Ford, not using its own resources to think up a new car design, but paying Honda to license it the design for the Civic. Things are either absolutely atrocious, like AMD's stock should be worth a Haitian penny right now bad and we just haven't been told anything, or somebody doesn't know what he's doing. Go get the old guys your predecessor fired, and bring them back for more money. Find the DEC guys, and offer stock options if you have to to get them on board. Then follow their advice. After a year or two of punishment, AMD will be back on firm ground again.

        • by scumdamn (82357)
          You mean like how Ford and Mazda worked together on engine design? Or how they collaborated with Audi? The Mazda 3, Focus, and S40 shared the same platform.

          Really, what was your point again?

          • Or how they collaborated with Audi? The Mazda 3, Focus, and S40 shared the same platform.

            You mean Volvo. Germans don't share the good stuff. Only Swedes do that.

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        The more surprising thing is AMD going w/ a totally new architecture - the ARM64 - instead of one of the true tried & tested RISC CPUs out there. They could have licensed SPARC from Oracle, or POWER from IBM, or MIPS from Mips, taken an existing CPU design, made a chip quickly, and then in subsequent iterations, build on that.. There would also have been existing software platforms ready for them - not just Linux or BSD, but also things like Solaris, or AIX.
  • They're losing the x86 battle, even with great chips, ARM might give them a huge boost, good for them to expand business.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:00AM (#41814353) Homepage

      If AMD can push their engineering into ARM quickly, they might not only stand a chance but they might dominate fairly quickly, I'd think. They're not on par with Intel on die size, but IIRC they're pretty close - that knowledge is certainly applicable.

      Remember, they've got good GPUs already. A lot of what they tried to do with the Mobility and later generations were very "ARM-like" already, it just didn't exactly work due to x86 limitations. I'd think they've got a pretty good chance overall. (If anything, it's a big market. Tegra# are really pushing NVidia along, after all...)

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Note the article says ARM *server* processors. In that market, GPUs are totally irrelevant, power usage is secondary to performance, and price of the CPU is a distant third.

        Any ARM CPU is at least an order of magnitude behind the current x86-64 server CPUs. Not to mention the additional work required to support multiple ARM CPUs on a motherboard, and even convince the major server manufacturers to build an ARM-based server in the first place. Good luck AMD, though you won't need it since even luck won't

        • Note the article says ARM *server* processors. In that market, GPUs are totally irrelevant, power usage is secondary to performance, and price of the CPU is a distant third.

          That is as has been, but I'm wondering if this is not a strategic move on their part. Perhaps They are thinking of large clusters of low power ARM cores that kick in as the workload demands with some kind of clever way of sharing resources (Freedom Fabric?). With the global political landscape the way it is, that could be an important point of difference.

          Reducing energy consumption is now the "in thing" and will continue to grow in purchasing decisions as financial incentives to reduce carbon emissions grow

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            That is as has been, but I'm wondering if this is not a strategic move on their part. Perhaps They are thinking of large clusters of low power ARM cores that kick in as the workload demands with some kind of clever way of sharing resources (Freedom Fabric?). ...
            If that server can idle at less than a Watt and then ramp up in small increments as demand requires, that might also yield an overall advantage.

            After 20 years of Wintel I finally caved to try a Mac. The new MBP Retina is insanely fast CPU-wise for t

            • by neokushan (932374)

              The new MBP Retina is insanely fast CPU-wise for the same battery use over my old laptop

              You're comparing old technology to new technology and proclaiming the new technology to be better. I am shocked.

        • by funkboy (71672)

          This is almost certainly for a SeaMicro-based architecture. The GPU might be mildly irrelevant in this market today but will continue to gain importance as more tasks transition to being executable via OpenCL & its cousins.

          What you are looking at is a small box densely packed with lots of cores. Another flavor will likely come as a box with a few weak ARM CPUs used to control a large quantity of GPUs for HPC applications.

          The thing that will make or break ARM in a SeaMicro style chassis is whether they

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Note the article says ARM *server* processors. In that market, GPUs are totally irrelevant, power usage is secondary to performance

          Begging the question. Is power usage actually secondary? Not for many kinds of workloads, which are storage-intensive. For SOME servers it doesn't make sense. For OTHER servers, it clearly makes sense; people are already using ARM-based servers. Perhaps you should consider a little self-education.

      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        They're not on par with Intel on die size

        This statement may have been true... back when they actually owned some fabs. :)

    • by toejam13 (958243) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:10AM (#41814415)

      I'm sure this is just AMD hedging their bets against multiple processor ISAs. There are places where ARM is better than x86/x86-64, so it makes sense to try and dominate those niches. It falls in line perfectly with AMD being a less expensive alternative to Intel.

      Given that Intel is trying to wind down its StrongARM line it inherited from DEC, AMD may see the ARM line as a place where it can finally be top dog. It has the expertise to give Broadcom, TI and Samsung a run for their money.

      Taking a really big drink from the hypothetical Kool-Aid, I could see ARM64 processors being used as x86-64 replacements in palmtops and laptops. There are a couple of x86 to ARM translators on the market, which would solve the binary compatibility issue. I used FX!32 back during the NT4 and NT5beta days with my DEC workstation, and it made emulated binaries about 90% as fast as native. With advances in JITC translators and a cleanup of the x86-64 ISA to make it closer to meeting Popek and Goldberg virtualization requirements, I could see a good modern translator being 95+% as fast as native x86-64 code.

      I've been expecting Apple to churn out a Power Book with an ARM processor and a binary translator. They did it with m68K -> PPC and PPC -> x86, so I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see x86 -> ARM. Now imagine it with an AMD ARM64 SoC at the heart of it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lowlymarine (1172723)
        An ARM processor doing binary translation for x86 would be like trying to tow an 18-wheeler with a Tata Nano. ARM may be low-power, but it's also...well, low-power. Even older Core 2 chips wipe the floor with ARM's latest and greatest from a performance standpoint.
        • by TheEyes (1686556) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:42AM (#41814611)

          Maybe the new direction is going to be heterogeneous computing. We're already seeing AMD and Intel combine x86 and a GPU on one die; maybe AMD will try to combine everything and have a couple of ARM cores for low-power tasks, a couple of Bulldozer modules for more intensive tasks, all combined with their GPU.

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            Bingo.
            • They need a cute small name for the ARM cores to go with the bulldozer for the large cores: maybe call them Cats or Toros or Deeres, more lawn-mowery than bull-dozery. :) Anyway, why translate X86 to arm when you could recompile directly for ARM? Isn't that where GNU and Linux (or GNU and HURD) could show the advantage of free-software-open-source-software's source code access allowing for the direct or cross-compilation of the source code into binaries which run on the ARM?

              I would think that taking pre-

              • by neokushan (932374)

                How would that work in a situation where you have both x86 and ARM cores on the same system?

                From what I've read, I definitely get the impression that AMD is doing some kind of modular system, whereby their APU cores can be coupled with either ARM or x86 variants. I'm not sure if that also includes ARM+x86 coupling, but that seems to be the point of "fabric" - it's a universal interconnect of some kind. However, how would that work in real life? What would be the advantage of it? ARM for seriously low power,

                • One possible way to make that work: when compiling to generate the Application Bundle [wikipedia.org] for a specific program, simultaneously generate two sets of code to include in the bundle:
                  1 - x86 code
                  2 - ARM code

                  Then, depending on power-resource utilization requests by the OS or directly by the user, the executing instance of the application can be migrated from one of the types of cores (eg x86 core) to one of the other types of cores (eg ARM-cores) by copying over (a) the current instances variable values, (b) th

        • I wouldn't want to tow an 18 wheeler with a Nano, but I also wouldn't want to deliver a small package to an inner city address with an 18 wheeler. Horses for courses (or pidgeons, horses and elephants for their respective courses if you will).
      • I just find it ironic that Apple could very well be going back to RISC after not even a decade of being on x86. Even more ironic given the amount of work Apple contributed with Acorn back in the 1980's.

        A MacBook with ARM chip wouldn't surprise me. After all the iPad, iPhone, and iPod are all arm chips already.

        But then again I bought this MBP earlier this year as well as parallels and Windows 7 Pro because I do enough development work on multiple platforms that i do need to test against windows as well as

        • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:59AM (#41815171)
          Well, considering that they made the jump for the PowerPC architecture to the x86 architecture because IBM/Motorola could not provide a low power version of the G5 PowerPC chip to be used in the portable space of laptops, it doesn't seem ironic at all that Apple might consider using a low power consumption chip in the laptop or portable space at all. It almost makes darned-good-sense.
          .

          And considering what they'd been doing with Pink / Taligent in keeping a parallel universe of development of their codebase always going on the x86 architecture while publicly showing only PowerPC development, they've probably got a skunks-work factory team somewhere that's already been running ARM-based IOS or even ARM-based OSX for a year if not for years...

      • Given that Intel is trying to wind down its StrongARM line it inherited from DEC, AMD may see the ARM line as a place where it can finally be top dog

        Intel isn't trying to wind this line down, they sold it outright to Marvell two years ago. Even then, they were pretty anaemic. XScale was the P4 of the ARM world: twice as high a clock speed as everyone else but a much lower instruction-per-clock. It's an ARMv5 implementation, which seems painfully archaic today (especially given the lack of FPU, which even most ARMv6 implementations have).

      • by Paul Jakma (2677)

        StrongARM? Didn't intel sell that to Marvel years ago?

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Given that Intel is trying to wind down its StrongARM line it inherited from DEC, AMD may see the ARM line as a place where it can finally be top dog. It has the expertise to give Broadcom, TI and Samsung a run for their money.

        Unless AMD has hired some of the bright names of ARM (and maybe they have, I've not been following such) they have essentially zero chance to come up to speed on ARM quickly enough to challenge any of the entrenched players any time soon.

        Taking a really big drink from the hypothetical Kool-Aid, I could see ARM64 processors being used as x86-64 replacements in palmtops and laptops

        Stop seeing that. It's not really plausible. There's no reason to do it, either, and there never will be unless ARM kicks x86's ass sometime in the nebulous future.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Uhh...what great chips? The Thubans were good, but everything based on Bulldozer just blows through power while having terrible IPC, thanks to having shared integer and floating point units. If they were to be honest the "modules" would be treated as single cores with hardware assisted hyperthreading, because the benches show that is a hell of a lot closer to what they are than to true cores. Hell since the release of BD they don't even have a single slot anymore on Tom's Hardware "Best Gaming CPU" [tomshardware.com] list whe

      • by makomk (752139) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:34AM (#41815275) Journal

        The Thubans were good, but everything based on Bulldozer just blows through power while having terrible IPC, thanks to having shared integer and floating point units. If they were to be honest the "modules" would be treated as single cores with hardware assisted hyperthreading, because the benches show that is a hell of a lot closer to what they are than to true cores.

        Errrm, all of the integer units are dedicated and the shared floating point units still give each core as much floating-point resources as on the previous generation of AMD chips even if every single core is using floating point 100% of the time. If AMD hadn't screwed up on the engineering side, it'd be a really great design.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If AMD hadn't screwed up on the engineering side, it'd be a really great design.

          I thought Bulldozer's reason to exist was to enable high clock rates. That doesn't seem to have panned out. Is that what you're talking about, or something else?

    • Not without the top-level chip designers their previous CEO nuked. They may be the Chicago Bulls in name, but the player lineup has changed.

  • I'm hoping AMD does something to stay relevant. If they were to leave the market (or effectively leave the market by selling super low volume), then there's nothing to keep Intel honest.

  • Intel will be doing the same thing in 3... 2... 1... Just like missing the 64-bit era with Itanium, it is missing he mobile era with Atom.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wouldn't be surprised at all if Intel had a team working on ARM ISA designs as a contingency plan, but I highly doubt they'd transition to ARM unless x86 was facing virtual annihilation. They're well aware that if they start releasing ARM chips, the whole industry will much more quickly transition away from x86. There's no way they would willingly destroy their extremely profitable, high-margin x86 business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by asliarun (636603)

      Intel will be doing the same thing in 3... 2... 1... Just like missing the 64-bit era with Itanium, it is missing he mobile era with Atom.

      What are you even talking about? Since when did Intel miss the "64 bit era" as you put it? Sure, Itanium was a failure and Intel sunk billions of dollars trying to make it work. However, Intel could afford that mistake and still continue chugging along. As things stand today, Intel absolutely dominates the 64 bit market. In fact, except for Intel, AMD, and the IBM Power chips, there is no other game in town as far as 64 bit is concerned, and in this market, Intel probably has 80% or 90% market share, and ha

      • Intel went for IA-64 and it was a complete failure. Ultimately, it was forced to adopt the AMD-64 instruction set. That's what I mean -- Intel missed the boat and the 64-bit instruction set it uses isn't even its own. Since adopting AMD-64, it's dominated the market space. If it wants to get anywhere in the mobile space, it will need to fold its current Atom strategy and go all-out ARM. Until it does that, it's Itanium all over again.
        • by asliarun (636603)

          Intel went for IA-64 and it was a complete failure. Ultimately, it was forced to adopt the AMD-64 instruction set. That's what I mean -- Intel missed the boat and the 64-bit instruction set it uses isn't even its own. Since adopting AMD-64, it's dominated the market space. If it wants to get anywhere in the mobile space, it will need to fold its current Atom strategy and go all-out ARM. Until it does that, it's Itanium all over again.

          Okay, I get what you were trying to say earlier. Fair point too - because AMD64 was a vastly superior design and more importantly, a vastly more pragmatic design compared to what Intel was trying to shove down people's throats. Goes to show what hubris can do.

          I'm not 100% sold on your recommendation of Intel dropping Atom and adopting ARM though. x86 is still very attractive to corporate clients and others who value legacy support and enterprise support. Business upgrade cycles are often very slow, and the

    • One of the bugbears of the ARM platform is the absence of mature, complete FOSS drivers for the embedded GPUs. e.g. PowerVR (proprietary), Mali (lima), Tegra (proprieatry), Adreno (Freedreno).

      I could see Intel going the other way - keeping ARM at a distance but licensing its HD Graphics GPU to SoC manufacturers at minimal cost on the condition that they use Intel's factories to fabricate them.

      (Just speculating - have no idea what % of a Sandy Bridge CPU's power draw is due to the graphics core(s))

  • I hope going with ARM is successful for them; maybe enough to get them to try to make something to compete with the Tegra in the mobile space eventually.
    • Consider that they used to sell Imageons (ARM CPU + ATI GPU), which they sold off.

      Let's hope this time it works out for them. Power optimization is now important, unlike the Imageon days..

  • Are they bringing back the Imageon line now? (ARM + ATI GPU on die?)

  • by Aryeh Goretsky (129230) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @12:51AM (#41814319) Homepage
    Hello,

    When it comes to servers, I use comparatively few (a small lab with a few rack's worth that used for research projects) at work, so I'm wondering what sort of tasks these would be useful for? It sounds like they'll run RHEL and other Linux distributions, but even after looking at the second slide in this [hothardware.com] presentation, it's unclear to me advantage this would be to a a small business, or, in my case, a small department in a larger organization.

    Is this new CPU/server line intended only for the enterprise? If so, what would the "trickle down effect" be for small groups like my own? Also, why would someone want to throw out their investment in existing hardware (including whatever talent they might have at programming and maintaining said hardware) for a design that's relatively proprietary?

    Regards,

    Aryeh Goretsky
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Yeah I'm guessing this is geared more towards people who do the whole vendor support thing, and they've got a handful (or at least one) person dedicated to maintaining specific equipment (eg. linux servers vs. switches). Homogenous is key, but high thread count will also push ARM advantage here, because you could fit (say) 8 of these small systems with multiple CPUs each in a single 2U without much issue, and still leverage your SAN storage.

      You'll probably see them in low-end "server" devices too, I imagine

      • by symbolset (646467) *

        For IT shops with fewer than 24 typical servers, what AMD might do in 2014 is not relevant. You would not be interested in trying this thing until it was field proven for three years. Even if it arrived on time (not AMD's strong suit) and it was nerdvana, that's 2017 before you're racking it. More likely the first version is quirky and your pilot starts two years later. But let's say 2017, for giggles. A typical 2 socket rack server can now be configured with 32 2.7GHz cores, 768 GB RAM, and terabytes

  • Can we see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @12:55AM (#41814327)
    x86-64 and 64-bit ARM on the same chip?

    I can see this being a remarkable selling point for Windows devices if both ARM and x86 code can execute on the same device without emulation.
    • When they control the heck out of any apps on any tablet or device, why bother to open it up to multiple types of apps?
    • by Ostracus (1354233)

      Actually I see this eventually rendering "for X architecture..." irrelevant. The more important "for what OS" will be dealt with using VMs. The need for more cycles to pull all this off competitively will mean we finally find a use for all those "solutions looking for a problem" engineers have been dreaming up.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I disagree. I think that would be foolish for customers. It would be great for AMD though, because people would be upgrading left and right (or overspecifying) to make sure they don't wind up limited by one or the other.

      It would make more sense for AMD to finally invent a system which can take asymmetric processors linked via HyperTransport, so that you can plug one amd64 or ARM processor and then however many amd64 or ARM processors you like after that.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      Why not x86-64 and ARMv8 on the same *core*?

      Every x86 chip on the market is some secret, internal RISC design with an x86 translator in front of it. I do not believe it would be terribly difficult to redesign the translator unit to accept ARM code as well, although getting it to perform as well as x86 does may be challenging. With a decent design and some clever firmware, you could probably make it boot as either ARM or x86 depending only on a BIOS setting, and change cores on the fly.

  • This is interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by banbeans (122547) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @12:56AM (#41814329)

    x86/AMD64 is overkill for many server functions.
    It will be interesting to see if chips appear optimized for different functions.
    For example hardware sql accelerators or massive i/o for file serving.
    Since many hardware raid controllers are nothing but ARM cores anyway it would be interesting to see multiple cores, some used as RAID controllers and some more advanced cores for the os and file serving with a 10GB lan controller all on one chip.
    Add power, drives and Ram and have a killer file server.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      It's overkill if you have precisely one hardware server per function. That's becomming increasingly rare.Nowadays, a "server" is most often a VM that doesn't need exclusive access to the physical CPU.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      The problem won't be the hardware, it will be the same problem that IA64 had, hardware is great but without the server software designed for it they are just expensive paper weights.
  • by Uzull (16705) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:59AM (#41814697) Homepage

    In fact AMD has an amazing technology portfolio. Having graphics chip (ATI Division), the hypertransport technology and AMD64, we can expect some interesting developments

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:14AM (#41814765)

    ARM architectures are considered more energy-efficient for some workloads because they were originally designed for mobile phones and consume less power.

    Fuck no. The ARM1 was released in 1987 as a coprocessor for Acorn's BBC Micro. They were designed for low power operation because the engineers were impressed with the 6502's efficiency. There weren't any significant mobile phone deployments until 18 years later in 2005.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Almost. The first ARM1 was produced in 1985. This was used in the BBC micro coprocessor to design the ARM2. The first ARM2 silicon was produced in 1986 and the Archimedes computers, which ran on the ARM2, were released in 1987. I've still got my A310.

      But yeah, it had nothing to do with mobile phones.

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @08:58AM (#41816655) Journal

      They were designed for low power operation because the engineers were impressed with the 6502's efficiency.

      Nope. They were designed for low power so that they could use cheap plastic packaging instead of expensive ceramic packaging.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      I read an article a while ago that stated that the ARM processors were so efficient by accident. They started from scratch with the design, not having the experience of Motorola, IBM, Intel and AMD of what a fully-fledged processor requires, and so it became a very simple one. This happens to be an important element for power efficiency.

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      Much like everyone else says, they were designed more for simplicity than anything else, and extremely low power consumption was an unintended side effect. Of course they were going for low power so they could use the cheap housings as mentioned above, but the frugal amounts it did actually eat were unintentional.

      There was an article on The Register some months ago on ARM development history (can't seem to find it now), and if it's to be believed they were investigating a series of mysterious crashes in the

  • So now we know what Jim Keller is back at AMD to do...

  • For me it would make more sense if they followed the MIPS64 path. But.. its their money.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The market chose ARM over MIPS because MIPS stalled. You can still buy a SuperH core, but why would you do that? Same for MIPS. Unless you really don't need performance and you're getting a really great deal, it's a bit difficult to fathom. All the interest is in ARM, so that's where the talent is developing. And since newer stuff tends to be built on a lower process it's not just faster, but also lower-power which is what everyone and their mom (literally) is demanding today.

      MIPS didn't keep up with ARM. U

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @07:37AM (#41816115)
    ARM is going to be a significant part of future server space. This issue comes up every so often on Slashdot and I always see the same reaction: x86 is the one true architecture and nothing will displace it. That's not a technically based opinion, it's a religious dogma.

    When you're on the client side of the network, it makes no difference what's on the server side. It could be a giant room full of hamsters and abacus. As long as the results come back fast and correct, you shouldn't care. That's the way the internet was designed. Heck, that's why it'd called the Inter-Net. Inter networking between different processor platforms.

    Intel is a one trick pony. Besides the evolution of the x86, they have never fielding an architecture that had any staying power. Anyone remember the i432 or the i860? The current standard x86-64 architecture was defined by AMD, not Intel. Itanium got that moniker because it was accurate. The only reason that the Itanium is alive is because of a civil suit by HP.

    What Intel is really really good at is putting gates on silicon. They did not succeed on architectural grounds, but by having the best implementation of a clunky architecture. They were always able to succeed by using more gates at a lower price then the competition.

    ARM is an architectural rival to x86. Intel won with the x86 because they could cram more gates onto silicon. They loose this advantage against ARM because ARM requires less silicon to do the same job. This translates to lower power usage, which is getting more and more important as time goes on. Other foundries can compete even if they are trailing Intel in processes capabilities, and they want to be in this market. As does AMD.

    ARM also benefits from being the dominant architecture for the smart phone/tablet sector, which means that there is a large community of developers and all the software one could ever want. An ARM-centric ecology exists, and it applies to servers as well as client software. Linux/GCC/MySql are happy on ARM, so any open source server software is easily available. And Microsoft has shown they are ready to run on ARM as well. It's not a risk from a software point of view.

    It's not that Intel/AMD x86 is going away, but ARM will also be a player. And we should all be glad about it, because AMD being less competitive with Intel is the road to monopoly, which means increased prices and a stagnant CPU sector.

    • by ledow (319597)

      I once saw a 1U rack that contained something like 16 ARM boards (the entire board, networked together with a switch, powered from individual cables, with disk interfaces over some custom central channel). It cost less, used less power, and did more in the same amount of space. It was a bit homebrew-esque (despite being a professional product), but the advantages were rife.

      I was sorely tempted to use it just because, as you say, server-side doesn't matter for most things. And with that sort of basic setu

      • by am 2k (217885)

        £500 to the first person to supply a 1U filled to the brim with Raspberry Pi's (or equivalent)

        I think the Parallella board [kickstarter.com] would be perfect for this, much better than the Raspberry Pi.

        • by ledow (319597)

          Not really.

          1) Kickstarter. Sign of a project doomed to failure when it concerns hardware, really. Especially where they are talking on the scale of producing hardware boards with en-masse dozens of cores on them from a few hundred thousand dollars.

          2) No OS support - it seems to be a number-cruncher with an ARM-controller, not a generic computer with lots of software already ported. Nobody will rewrite their software to take advantage of it unless it's MADLY to their advantage (i.e. number crunchers, not

          • by am 2k (217885)

            Not really.

            1) Kickstarter. Sign of a project doomed to failure when it concerns hardware, really. Especially where they are talking on the scale of producing hardware boards with en-masse dozens of cores on them from a few hundred thousand dollars.

            That's just prejudice on your part. There are many amateurs doing Kickstarter projects they don't fully understand, but there are also some professionally done ones on there. The hard task of backing something there is to find out which of these two types the creator is.

            2) No OS support - it seems to be a number-cruncher with an ARM-controller, not a generic computer with lots of software already ported. Nobody will rewrite their software to take advantage of it unless it's MADLY to their advantage (i.e. number crunchers, not generic machines).

            It supports OpenCL, which is the standard for this kind of thing across many device types. Of course, if you're talking about web servers and databases, you might have a problem.

            Actually, I can't think of anything in a web server that could

  • What other company could make a processor that does both x86 and ARM? Windows 8 that runs both ARM and legacy x86 apps? I could see that as being pretty differentiated. Their GPUs are on par with nVidia, and they have better processor microarchitecture.

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