AMD To Launch ARM-Based Opteron Chips by 2014


AMD has just announced details of its first ARM-based server chips, which it says will be released sometime in 2014 under its Opteron brand.

According to the US firm, the move will allow it to increase both the capabilities and energy efficiency of its product line. The development is significant because, along with Intel, AMD is one of the key driving forces behind x86 chip architecture, reports IT Pro Portal.

AMD said that intends for its ARM Opteron processor to be a single chip product, which will be sold to server vendors like Dell, and also under its own Seamicro brand.

According to Lisa Su, General Manager of AMD’s Global Business Units, the new chips will integrate Seamicro’s recently announced Freedom Fabric as its “secret sauce”, which the company hopes will give it an edge over other ARM chip makers.

In addition to its new chips, ARM also talked up its new ARM-based accelerated processing units, although it didn’t commit to any firm release date for these. Su explained that AMD has been busy trying to get software and hardware vendors around the table for discussions, and bring in OEMs to help boost the development of software.

While the decision not to launch ARM-based Opteron chips till 2014 at the earliest might raise some eyebrows, it seems that AMD has taken this decision simply because software like Hadoop isn’t yet ready to integrate ARM architecture. ARM’s 64-bit architecture, which is aimed at chips intended for servers, is a fairly recent development, with Fedora Linux and Canonical leading efforts to produce an ARM64 version of Ubuntu Linux, and Red Hat attempting to port OpenJDK.

Interestingly, while AMD has stirred interest among the likes of Dell, Facebook, Amazon and Red Hat, it continues to be ignored by Microsoft, who up until now has seemed largely uninterested in servers running ARM chips. Microsoft’s apparent decision to ignore the latest ARM developments could well mean that the ARM server market, which is forecasted to take control of a 15% market share in the next few years, being based exclusively on Linux.