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AMD puts faith back in x86, downgrading its ARM effort

Agam Shah | May 8, 2015
At an investor meeting on Wednesday, AMD further delayed its ARM-based server chip code-named Seattle and cut a major project that could have bridged the gap between its x86 and ARM chips.

AMD shot to relevance in the early 2000s with server chips beginning with an Opteron processor code-named Hammer, which was the first 64-bit x86 chip. Hammer was hailed as a major innovation, and AMD hopes to bring back some of those glory days with the new Zen-based server chips, which will have new memory and bandwidth technologies.

Despite a major x86 focus, AMD isn't completely giving up on ARM. New processors based on its homegrown ARM core, code-named K12, will be released in 2016 or 2017.

The decision to reinvest in x86 was strategic for AMD's new management team, which has limited resources to work with, McGregor said.

Su was appointed AMD's CEO in October last year, and Norrod took over the server and custom chip team shortly thereafter.

The server business is a money spinner for Intel and can be for AMD, too. High-volume server chip shipments are in x86, not ARM, and refocusing there is a good decision by AMD, McGregor said.

"The ARM server market is still developing," McGregor said.

 

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