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AMD's Project Skybridge unites x86 and ARM, brings Android support

Agam Shah | May 6, 2014
Advanced Micro Devices 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.

AMD started shipping its first ARM-based server chip, code-named Seattle, to customers in January this year, and end products are expected to come out next year. At the press event, AMD demonstrated a Seattle server handling Web hosting and web page rendering through the LAMP -- Linux OS, Apache Web server, MySQL database and programming languages Perl/Python/PHP -- software stack.

Chips resulting from Project Skybridge could find a use in servers like Hewlett-Packard's 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 specifications for a slot that is compatible with both AMD and x86 processors. However, AMD officials did not say whether the Project Skybridge methodology would be applied to server hardware.

AMD is fighting for its survival in servers, and is relying on ARM for a renewed push that the company hopes will help it regain market share. Its server processor market share was just 2.8 percent in the first quarter of 2014, down from 4.7 percent in the same quarter the previous year, according to Mercury Research. Intel had a 97.2 percent market share during the first quarter this year. At its peak during the second quarter of 2006, AMD held a 26.2 percent market share.

AMD is using a standard Cortex-A57 design from its initial ARM chips, but its developing its own ARM processor core called K12, which will reach products in 2016.


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