updated 06:40 pm EST, Sat February 4, 2012
AMD hints openness to ARM
AMD in conversations at the end of the week wouldn't discount the possibility of making ARM-based processors. When pressed by Wired, CTO and former Apple executive Mark Papermaster made the unusual non-denial that "the answer is not no." The company's long-term plans were aiming for a modular chip design that could drop in ARM or another architecture without losing Radeon graphics or other AMD-specific touches.
Much of the modularity would come into effect in 2013, although that wouldn't necessarily make an ARM processor an option at the time.
A choice of ARM could allow multiple new avenues for AMD. At a minimum, it would allow for AMD to enter the still young category of ARM-based servers. The very low power use and cheap prices allow for blade servers that can run many cores at a fraction of the price of an x86-based server. ARM-based notebooks and tablets running Windows 8 would be equally logical given AMD's experiences.
Adding ARM could, at its most, let AMD directly supply smartphones and mobile OS tablets with processors. The company already has access to its former manufacturing wing, GlobalFoundries, for making 28-nanometer and smaller designs that would be competitive with work from Apple, Samsung, and others. Apple would be unlikely to take AMD chips that it couldn't customize, but many other companies could use it as an alternative to Samsung, Marvell, TI, and others.