Just yesterday we ran the story details of Intel’s new Skylake CPU and platform (known as series-100) had been leaked. The good news is Intel aren’t the only ones who’ve been hard at work the past months, and AMD have released a slew of news concerning the future of their own brand of CPU’s.
Unsurprisingly it’s not just a future comprising the traditional Desktop X86 processors, and instead we’ll be seeing a bunch of ARM CPU’s from AMD too. Previously we’ve heard of AMD’s plans to release a 28nm 8-Core ARM Cortex A57 based Opteron CPU this year, it’ll have no dedicated Integrated GPU on the SoC’s die since it’s targeted firmly at the server / enterprise market. But AMD haven’t finished there, and have now announced next year we’ll be seeing a 20nm part.
This 20nm Cortex A57 ARM CPU from AMD will feature AMD’s GCN (Graphic Core Next) technology built right into the die. The real interest comes from the fact it’ll be pin compatible with AMD’s own next generation X86 SoC (using their Puma cores… AMD do love cats!). This ARM SoC will also be their first for the android platform. This cross pin technology will be known as SkyBridge and should be appearing in 2015.
It’s likely that we’ll not be seeing traditional boards (from say MSI or ASUS) aimed at the regular retail customers with these types of features. Instead it’ll possibly be restricted to purely BGA (in other words soldered directly onto the board). This will provide embedded system producers greater flexibility and allow their devices to easily tailored to the needs of the client.
In 2016+ AMD are planning to unleash K12, which will be targeting a variety of different markets, including Server, embedded and semi-custom devices. AMD aren’t giving away too many details as of yet, so their exact performance and specs is a bit of a mystery. We do know there’ll be a corresponding X86 core too, and according to AMD it’ll combine the best of AMD’s low power and high performance cores. Details are a little thin on the ground right now, so we can only wait and see what type of changes AMD have made compared to say Bulldozer.
AMD’s change to focusing on both ARM and traditional X86 likely won’t come as much of a surprise, with the rapidly expanding demand for ARM processors it’s a rich market to tap in to. That being said, X86 continues to be a market with a lot of demand, despite AMD playing second fiddle to Intel the past few years.
Keeping this in mind, there have been a few flaws in AMD’s Bulldozer technology – primarily its low performance in single threaded applications. This has meant that despite only having 4 cores, an Intel CPU (for example the Haswell 4670) will generally win out in benchmarks against an 8 Core Bulldozer from AMD. This has obviously been costing AMD Market share, particularly with gamer’s due to the poor use of multi-core in games (especially due to issues with say DX11).
Jim Keller (from AMD) continues to stress that they’ll be using their expertise in high frequency cores and marrying them up with their skills in low power high performance parts. If this is true both the ARM and X86 markets could be shaken up and Intel could have something to worry about.
Currently I’m sure you’ll agree the CPU market is at a bit of a stand-still, with Intel’s CPU’s (from SandyBridge to Ivy Bridge and Haswell) offering a small bump in performance (around 10 percent). AMD aren’t competing with them too well right now either due to their issues with Single thread performance. It’s not that the CPU’s are bad, in some titles (Crysis 3) which places a greater emphasis on multi-threading AMD are quite competitive – but technology has been a little stagnant of late.