AMD announces first ARM chip, embedded roadmap

September 10, 2013 | 10:14

Tags: #apu #bald-eagle #cortex-a57 #cpu #embedded #gcn #gpu #jaguar #radeon-hd #steamroller #steppe-eagle

Companies: #amd #arm

AMD is continuing its attack on the embedded market, formally announcing its first ARM-based processor alongside an updated roadmap of low-power chips.

Unveiled by AMD's director of embedded solutions Arun Iyengar late last night, the AMD Hierofalcon isn't actually ready to ship; the chip will be launched formally some time mid-2014, the company admitted, but it is far enough along in its development that it can be detailed and demonstrated to the public.

The AMD Hierofalcon is a 64-bit, system-on-chip (SoC) design based on the Cortex-A57 core design from Cambridge-based low-power expert ARM. It marks the first time AMD has produced an ARM chip, and a significant departure from its typical x86 and AMD64 fare - a move prompted, its critics will likely argue, by its continuing failure to compete with processor giant Intel at the high-performance end of the market.

The chip will be most at home in network appliances, Iynegar explained, offering a choice of four or eight processing cores, on-board 10Gb Ethernet support, and a 15W or 30W thermal design profile (TDP) depending on specification. An on-board memory controller provides support for ECC RAM, and PCI Express 3.0 is included as standard.

As well as the Hierofalcon, AMD unveiled an updated roadmap for embedded products in 2014 which comprises: the Bald Eagle APU, which features two or four Steamroller-based CPU cores and Radeon HD 9000 Series graphics in a 17-35W TDP; the Steppe Eagle APU SoC with two or four enhanced Jaguar cores, Radeon HD 8000 Series graphics and a 5-25W TDP; and the embedded-specific Adelaar GPU, based on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and offering up to 2GB of GDDR5 with a claimed 72GB/s memory throughput and packaged as a full-size PCI Express board, mini-PCIe board or multi-chip module (MCM).

AMD's focus on graphics - only the Hierofalcon, with its focus on headless network appliances, lacks on-board graphics - is clear, and with good reason: Intel is also gunning for the embedded market, pushing new variants of its Atom line. AMD's embedded parts compare well to Intel's Atom line, typically offering improved general-purpose processing performance and significantly better graphics capabilities.

All four of the company's 2014 embedded product lines, which will start with Adelaar and Bald Eagle early next year and will be followed by Steppe Eagle and then Hierofalcon early in the second half of the year, are built on a 28nm process. Pricing for the parts has not yet been confirmed.
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