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Tuesday, 03 May 2011 11:34

AMD must remain armless

Written by Nick Farell


ARM not going to get into AMD
Analysts have dismissed media speculation that AMD is going to move to Arm based chip designs. In a report penned by GLD Research, the company said that it did not take much analysis to be convinced there is little here that will dramatically help AMD or ARM.

ARM would come out better but AMD would be mostly working outside of its depth. For more than 30 years, AMD had focused on personal computers and servers, using advanced versions of the x86 processor of its own design chasing behind and occasionally getting ahead of Intel, the report notes. But the operating systems, applications, and any other software written for x86 processors cannot be run on any other processor without massive efforts in re-writing and testing, making it totally impractical and ineffective.

ARM processor architecture is too different from the x86, as are all other processors. While it is nearly a de facto standard in embedded electronic systems where AMD has no links. ARM processors are known for being thrifty in terms of power consumption. Their power is measured in milliwatts, not the tens of carefully-throttled watts of x86 horsepower. AMD once had non-x86 processors, even a version of the MIPS architecture which also drew the whisper of power that ARM processors can, but AMD was completely unsuccessful finding sustainable markets for its Alchemy chips, the report noted.

It would not be the first x86 designer to waste cash trying to chase after ARM either. Intel invested a small fortune into the ARM architecture it called XScale and put its marketing muscle behind winning designs in the personal digital assistant (PDA) and smart phone market. After a few short years, Intel abandoned the effort and flogged its its portion to Marvell. The report said that AMD would be starting flat-footed in both the markets and processors of the ARM architecture, so putting an ARM in AMD’s pocket is not likely to set them up to succeed, especially since there are dozens of traditional embedded processor merchants fighting.
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