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AMD Security Hardware IT

AMD and ARM Team Up 108

Vigile writes "Today AMD is making an announcement that is the first step in a drastic transition for the company by integrating an ARM Cortex A5 processor on the same die with upcoming Fusion APUs. Starting in late 2013, all AMD APUs (processors that are combinations of x86 cores and Radeon SIMD arrays) will also integrate an ARM Cortex A5 processor to handle security for online transactions, banking, identity protection and DRM integration. The A5 is the smallest Cortex processor available, and that would make sense to use it in a full APU so it will not take up more than 10-15 square mm of die space. This marks the first time AMD has licensed ARM technology and while many people were speculating a pure ARM+Radeon hybrid, this move today is being described as the 'first step' for AMD down a new road of dexterity as an IP-focused technology company with their GPU technology as 'the crown jewel.' So while today's announcement might focus on using ARM processors for security purposes, the future likely holds much more these two partners."
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AMD and ARM Team Up

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  • by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:57PM (#40312661)

    Gotta start somewhere.

    So today they may be writing programs to use the extra ARM core for DRM, but I don't see where these are limited to just DRM.

  • Playstation 4? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dicobalt ( 1536225 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @03:10PM (#40312803)
    Sounds like a console chip to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @05:44PM (#40315107)

    ARM's processors aren't powerful enough to run Win8 Boxes.

    And lets be honest here, when Android, IPhone, and all the other big OS players in the mobile market were developing their OS's they were developing them to small Motorola, Arm, Apple and Intel embedded non-x86 processors. So that means VERY limited app functionality from their standpoint and to get cross platform compatability you need java and browser support because NOBODY is going to spend a fortune developing an app just for one vendor's OS.

    What does the A5 have that AMD needs? it has Cell signalling functionality, a Mature TPM platform, a mature hardware security platform, and VPN acceleration.

    AMD doesn't have the Mature TPM platform on it's x86 lineup which if you want to stop people from, say, jailbreaking your new Win8 tablet that was sold under contract, is a big thing; Intel Does but AMD isn't going to license it from their competition. Also Microsoft is going to write a new hardware standard for Win8 just like they did for Vista/7, which means new DRM requirements which means new hardware lockout requirements. Want your tablet to provide a "rich media experience"? Well, in order for your Tablet to wirelessly interface with your TV and enable playback of video from the tablet to the TV, you just GOT to have the newest DRM standard (think HDCP for Wifi).

    They're also missing instructions on their cores for accelerating cell signalling functions which you need if you want to boosting signal resolution, which in turn, enables you to use less power for your cell connection. Finally, if your mobile device is always-VPN'd into your corporate network, and you want to run VOIP chat over it, you get 150MS end to end for your latency, and VPN encryption adds anywhere from 10-50ms of signal processing on EACH END of the connection. This is the reason you see 3des modules for Cisco security appliances; you can offload the processing onto a seperate board thus decreasing the latency substantially.

    So what AMD does is they aim to take their current GPU/CPU offering, which will do decent graphics on a 10" tablet running at, say, 1024x768 or similar resolution, then toss the A5 ontop to handle the cellphone end of the system, then wait for the die size to shrink to give them that extra 25% of die space, retool their chips to be ultra-ultra low power, toss all that goobly gop into a single chip, license the driver binaries from ARM, retool them for windows, and offer it to the market as a complete, embedded solution.

    That is going to be VERY attractive to companies like HTC.

    Lets face it, if we cut out the northbridge entirely from the equation and stick 1-2 southbridges all with embedded devices on them, really things get very tiny.

  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @10:45PM (#40318247) Homepage Journal

    While I won't be happy to see it used for more DRM, it actually could prove quite beneficial to have increased general access to a chip which should be usable as a crypto coprocessor.

    Crypto offloading cards are pretty expensive, and this would allow for modules to be rewritten on AMD+Linux boxes to dedicate SSL and like functions without increasing the general processor load.

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