AMD To Design ARM-based Opteron CPUs

In a move to expand its suite of energy-efficient processors, AMD said this week that it will design 64-bit processors based on low-power chips from ARM.

John Rath

November 1, 2012

3 Min Read
AMD To Design ARM-based Opteron CPUs


Jay Parikh, Vice President of Infrastructure Engineering at Facebook, speaks about AMD's decision to offer ARM-based processors during a launch event this week. (Source: AMD)

In a move to expand its suite of energy-efficient processors, AMD said this week that it will design 64-bit processors based on low-power chips from ARM. The ARM product will supplement AMD's x86 processors for multiple markets, starting with cloud and data center servers.

Efficient, Multi-core SoC

AMD's bold move into bridging both x86 and ARM processors data centers will begin with an integrated 64-bit multicore System-on-a-Chip (SoC) optimized for the dense, energy-efficient servers that now dominate the largest data centers and power the modern computing experience. Set to be in production in 2014 the new processor will integrate the AMD SeaMicro Freedom supercompute fabric.

"AMD led the data center transition to mainstream 64-bit computing with AMD64, and with our ambidextrous strategy we will again lead the next major industry inflection point by driving the widespread adoption of energy-efficient 64-bit server processors based on both the x86 and ARM architectures," said Rory Read, president and chief executive officer, AMD. "Through our collaboration with ARM, we are building on AMD’s rich IP portfolio, including our deep 64-bit processor knowledge and industry-leading AMD SeaMicro Freedom supercompute fabric, to offer the most flexible and complete processing solutions for the modern data center."

AMD bought SeaMicro earlier this year to secure a strong data center market presence, and to obtain the company's innovative intellectual property. SeaMicro’s patented I/O virtualization allows companies to save money by using fewer cables and network interface cards (NICs) to connect to networks and storage. The SeaMicro architecture can support any type of processor, and one of the benefits of the AMD acquisition is the ability to adapt SeaMicro’s technology to a broader range of workloads and applications.

Bold, Broad Strategy

AMD's comprehensive strategy hopes to address the most important issues in the data center: power, space, and bandwidth. The approach will offer differentiation and choice, with a foundation around CPU, APU (Accelerated Processing Units) and fabric. AMD’s new design initiative addresses the growing demand to deliver better performance-per-watt for dense cloud computing solutions.

"The industry needs to continuously innovate across markets to meet customers’ ever-increasing demands, and ARM and our partners are enabling increasingly energy- efficient computing solutions to address these needs,” said Warren East, chief executive officer, ARM. “By collaborating with ARM, AMD is able to leverage its extraordinary portfolio of IP, including its AMD Freedom supercompute fabric, with ARM 64-bit processor cores to build solutions that deliver on this demand and transform the industry.”

At an event hosted by AMD Monday in San Francisco, representatives from Amazon, Dell, Facebook, and Red Hat participated in a panel discussion on opportunities created by ARM server solutions from AMD.

"With its planned 64-bit ARM solutions, AMD brings the experience of a proven enterprise CPU provider to the ARM ecosystem," said Jimmy Pike, vice president and senior fellow of the Dell Data Center Solutions group. "ARM has the promise of being a serious player in areas like web front-end servers and as a worker node in a Hadoop environment. AMD's opportunity is to deliver serious value in performance per dollar and performance per watt where low power server platforms running massively scale out workloads can shine. The availability of 64-bit ARM solutions is an essential milestone needed to accelerate enterprise adoption of this technology.”

Amazon VP and Distinguished Engineer James Hamilton comments on the AMD and ARM collaboration in this video. ARM CEO Warren East welcomes AMD to the ARM partnership in this video.

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