AMD Files Patent for Heterogeneous Processor System Similar to Arm big.LITTLE Technology

Image: AMD

AMD has been on a roll with its processor technology in the last few years. It has managed to successfully dominate significant portions of the consumer and data-center markets globally. Recently, it has also gained a greater foothold in the laptop arena. So, what does the prolific chip maker have in store next? Well, it looks like it could be expanding its presence in the mobile tech arena. The folks over at DSOG discovered an interesting detail with a recent patent filing for AMD.

A heterogeneous processor system includes a first processor implementing an instruction set architecture (ISA) including a set if ISA features and configured to support a first subset of the set of ISA features. The heterogeneous processor system also includes a second processor implementing the ISA including the set of ISA features and configured to support a second subset of the set of ISA features, wherein the first subset and the second subset of the set of ISA features are different from each other.

This is basically AMD moving into Arm’s territory. ARM big.LITTLE technology is something that has been around for a while now. It allows for major power and performance gains in battery-operated devices. In essence, combinations of processors are used at different times to conserve power for less-demanding tasks. This design is present in a variety of its Cortex processors. Their octa-cores are often a pairing of two quad-cores together, but each with different speeds and TDP.

Arm has been in the news a lot recently. Rumors of Apple, Samsung, and NVIDIA buying it have circulated. Since AMD is already well established for both design and processor manufacturing, it does make sense for it to flex its considerable muscles in this direction. After all, why buy Arm when you have the resources to develop your own similarly designed technology? Heterogeneous processor systems need not be exclusive to mobile tech, either. We could even see such systems incorporated into any of its existing business ventures.

Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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