Chip maker AMD has been competing with Intel in the x86 market for decades, but recently the company started working on ARM-based chips for servers and embedded applications. With feet in both worlds, AMD plans to do something no company has tried so far: In 2015 the company will offer pin-to-pin compatible x86 and ARM processors.

In other words, system makers will be able to use the same hardware to produce devices with either ARM or x86 chips.

Theoretically that could mean a PC motherboard that can use either of AMD’s next-gen chips, but we’re more likely to see embedded devices, servers, and other enterprise applications first.

amd project skybridge

AMD calls the new platform Project SkyBridge, and describes it as an “ambidextrous” framework.

The pin-to-pin compatible chips will be 20nm, 64-bit processors. The x86 chips will be based on next-gen “Puma+” low-power designs, while the ARM chips will be based on ARM Cortex-A57 technology.

Both chips will feature AMD graphics, and ARM chips will be the first from AMD to officially support Google Android.

AMD also plans to launch a 64-bit ARM server chip code-named Seattle this year. The company showed that off at an event in San Francisco today, promising support for web servers and popular applications such as WordPress.

While AMD’s first few ARM-based chips will be based on ARM’s Cortex-A57 designs, the company eventually plans to develop its own custom CPU technology based on ARM architecture.

In 2016 we should see something called AMD K12, which will be a 64-bit chip based on ARMv8 technology. Like Project SkyBridge, it’ll launch alongside a pin-to-pin compatible, low-power x86 CPU.

via AnandTech


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3 replies on “AMD unveils plans for ARM, x86 chips that are pin-compatible”

  1. Very interesting. I’ve been thinking about getting that new nVidia dev board to use as a small Linux desktop, but the thought of having to throw it away in a couple years (when it is horribly obsolete) gives me pause. If AMD makes socketed ARM processors and board, that will likely be enough to make me take the plunge. Unless they suck, of course (time will tell).

  2. I hope they provide some competition in the ARM market. It seems I keep hearing Qualcomm being used. At least in most high end phones and tablets that I’m personally interested in.

    I hope they contribute to open source Linux drivers for their ARM chips. Right now, they do seem to contribute more to open drivers than NVIDIA when it comes to GPU drivers. Although, NVIDIA is slowly working on that. I’m still waiting on an ARM platform where installing Linux is just a simple official ISO download away.

  3. I think that is a good idea. It gives companies a choice without having to a board for each cpu.

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