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8 www.pcadvisor.co.

uk/news August 2014


NEWS
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AMD is bridging the gap between the x86-
and ARM chip architectures and is also
bringing Android support to its chips next
year through a new development effort
called Project Skybridge.
Project Skybridge will provide the
plumbing for ARM- and x86 cores to be
combined on hardware, and new chips
based on the architectures will be released
in 2015. The x86 and ARM chips will be pin-
compatible, making it possible to congure
both chips on a single motherboard.
Different motherboards are currently
required for x86 and ARM chips, and its
expensive for developers and users alike
to support disparate architectures, said
Lisa Su, general manager of AMDs global
business units.
This is the beginning of the family
of products that will offer customers
capability and exibility, Su said. Its
going to be ARM and x86. These are the
two most important architectures.
AMD showed a Project Skybridge chart
where a combined x86-ARM system could
support Windows, Linux and Android. Su
said Skybridge products are targeted at
embedded- and client devices, which could
include tablets. Tablets with AMD chips are
currently available with Windows 8.1, but
it is possible to run Android applications
through a Bluestacks virtual layer.
The ARM-based chip will be based on
the Cortex-A57 processor design, which
is 64-bit and will be AMDs rst chip to
support Android, Su said. The x86 chip will
be based on the Puma+ core, which is being
used in the recently launched Mullins
tablet- and Beema laptop chips. With pin
compatibility, Skybridge parts could be
soldered down on a motherboard.
AMD has so far shied away from
supporting Android. The company has said
it will not bring Android to x86 chips as the
OS runs best on ARM processors.
The ARM and x86 chips will be made
using the 20nm process, and could be
combined with AMDs latest GPUs. Device
makers will be able to combine any number
of x86 and ARM cores in products.
Skybridge will drive down hardware costs, allowing x86- and ARM chips on a single motherboard

This is the beginning of the family of products that will


offer customers capability and flexibility
CHRIS
MARTIN
AMD SKYBRIDGE UNITES x86 &
ARM, BRINGS ANDROID SUPPORT
But AMD wont go into low-cost phones,
Su said, adding that it isnt in our DNA.
Project Skybridge is an example of
AMDs implementation of a chip-design
methodology established in 2012, in which
multiple intellectual property blocks can be
patched together on a computing system.
To expand beyond x86, AMD licensed ARM
architecture, which is dominant in mobile
devices and is gaining steam in servers.
AMDs rst use of the ARM architecture
was for a Cortex-A5 core that provided
security for PC chips.
Chips resulting from Project Skybridge
could nd a use in servers such as HPs
AMDs Su said Skybridge could be
used in networking hardware, which
use disparate architectures for tasks.
For example, AMDs Project Skybridge
could provide one product that could use
x86 for the high-end control plane and
ARM for low-end processing. Such an
implementation could reduce hardware-
and software costs, Su said.
Its way too expensive to support
disparate architectures in an ecosystem,
Su said. Its really about simplifying that
use case... for a given software ecosystem.
Project Moonshot, a dense server that
aims to combine x86- and ARM processors
in a single chassis. The Facebook-backed
Open Computer Project has provided
specications for a slot that is compatible
with both AMD and x86 processors.
However, AMD ofcials did not say whether
the Project Skybridge methodology would
be applied to server hardware.
AMD is ghting for its survival in
servers, and is relying on ARM for a
renewed push that the company hopes
will help it regain market share.
008_011 News 229.indd 8 03/06/2014 17:49