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Apple has been attracting a lot of attention with its high-performance, low-power M1 SoC, but new rumors suggest that AMD is preparing to challenge the company with its own ARM-based processor.

The rumor comes from leaker Mauri QHD, whose source claims that AMD’s chip is already in the prototype stage. Apparently, red team is planning at least two versions: one with integrated RAM, and another without. The source also suggests that it could be unveiled sooner than expected.

While this news should be taken with a grain of salt, TechSpot pointed out in its coverage that AMD has definitely contemplated ARM processors before. The company actually announced one (the K12 Core, a custom 64-bit ARMv8 CPU) in 2016, but that project was abandoned.

“The project was to be led by then AMD lead CPU architect Jim Keller, but the SoC was shelved,” TechSpot noted. “In May of this year, however, leaker Komachi Ensaka created an AMD roadmap that included a ‘K12 FFX’ with a vague release date of between 2017 – 2022.”

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8 Comments

  1. AMD has been working on ARM for quite some time. I’d expect with the success Apple is having, your going to hear about everyone and their brother coming out with something or another ARM, since it’s going to be the latest buzzword… but it’s not going to be something you can just jump into without having had done some significant development work – at least not anywhere near the same level as Apple, who has been tweaking on their own ARM product for more than a decade now.

    This is an article dated 2014. AMD didn’t do this exact thing (yet, anyway), but they do leverage ARM as their on-die security co-processor. (PSP, similar to Intel’s IME)

    What I do find interesting, and perhaps more telling:

    Intel announces Alder Lake it’s big/LITTLE approach for the desktop. AMD says we aren’t interested, because the software can’t really do anything with it. And that was true – Windows and Linux don’t really do anything with it, and even at the time OS X didn’t really. Only mobile OSes have really ever done anything with big/LITTLE.

    Now the biggest reason Apple has knocked it out of the park with M1 is because they use big/LITTLE on there, and they integrated the hardware platform into the OS software. (Well, that and unified system memory). Apple essentially showed that yeah, if you can get the software to play well, big/LITTLE can have a huge impact on your system. You can certainly bet that Microsoft is already racing to catch up with Windows, and it may be more embarassing for Microsoft because they have had an ARM version for several years now, but could never get it to gain traction (probably because they couldn’t get the hardware)

    What’s funny is that Intel doesn’t really do anything with OSes (apart from some linux contributions and a distro), but they saw enough to put the hardware out there. Chicken and the egg – AMD wouldn’t move because the software wasn’t there, the software wasn’t there because there was no hardware to run it on.

    I find the circle of events amusing – Microsoft jumped in too soon, AMD being afraid to jump in at all, Intel late to the game again, and it takes probably the only company (at least outside of China with the backing of the PRC) who has the resources to pull both the hardware and software sides together to show how it’s done.

    I expect in the next couple of years a ton of activity on ARM, desktop on ARM, and for nVidia’s investment in ARM to become a huge player. One computer release from Apple (and their 9% marketshare) is hardly a harbinger of things to come, but where Apple goes, the rest of the industry emulates (often poorly, but not always), and I expect Windows ARM support to get a huge shot in the butt and a rapid slew of ARM-based hardware to start pouring out in the next couple of years. And that puts nVidia in a similar position as AMD to control nearly all the hardware on a PC… and Intel left looking like a deer in the headlights hoping they can hold on to datacenter marketshare over a much superior Epyc and up-and-coming ARM cores.

    Apple and nVidia have a good deal of bad blood between them. I can’t see Apple being a big hardware player – they are only interested in internal development and control of the ecosystem, they don’t want to sell anything to system integrators or OEMs. And I don’t see having a really good CPU has really moving the needle and being breakout for desktop market share – if anything, this move is to more closely align OS X and iOS (where they do have pretty good market share). But back to Apple and nVidia…. that should be interesting to see if they bury the hatchet and move forward, and we start to see some other nVidia technology proliferate into the design, or if Apple tries to maneuver to continue to prevent from having anything to do with nVidia. I suspect the latter, as Apple has already invested heavily in their own GPU platform. I suspect Apple will probably hold their nose to keep their ISA ARM licenses valid and keep marching to the beat of their own drum, but nothing else.

  2. I recall back then there were rumors of an ARM/x64 chip with big x86 cores and little ARM cores.
    But I think AMD was aiming for servers back then when ARM was supposed to take on the server market by storm.
  3. We should remember that the ARM/nVidia deal is approx 16 months from being completed and still has some major regulatory hurdles to get through. Anything can happen during that time.
  4. Apple has always been forging their own road on what xpu technology to use. For a long time they were running on Motorola processors. Then they wernt to IBM with power pc. Remember when it comes to Apple they own the entire ecosystem and a custom cpu is just icing on the cake.

    Though I think it was Amazon offering virtualize Macs now is an very interesting twist. That should be in the news more. How is that working? Is it complete emulation? Will it work for os’s designed for m1 chips or just x86 based instruction sets? Time will tell….

  5. Apple has always been forging their own road on what xpu technology to use. For a long time they were running on Motorola processors. Then they wernt to IBM with power pc. Remember when it comes to Apple they own the entire ecosystem and a custom cpu is just icing on the cake.

    Though I think it was Amazon offering virtualize Macs now is an very interesting twist. That should be in the news more. How is that working? Is it complete emulation? Will it work for os’s designed for m1 chips or just x86 based instruction sets? Time will tell….

    Not really virtual macs as they run on actual mac minis (I assume several instances using ESXi or something like that), not on virtualization servers.

  6. Apple has allowed OS X to be virtualized for some time now, with the caveat that it’s only done on Apple hardware.

    Which is less than useful, but I don’t know that many people have accused Apple of being in the business of being useful.

  7. Apple has allowed OS X to be virtualized for some time now, with the caveat that it’s only done on Apple hardware.

    Which is less than useful, but I don’t know that many people have accused Apple of being in the business of being useful.

    yup, its not like Apple would allow AWS to do a Hackintosh :LOL: :p :D :unsure:

  8. Oh god, let’s not go back to the disaster that were the old Apple servers. Xserve’s death was a wonderous day.
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