What’s the fate of K12/ARM at AMD?

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Hitman928

Diamond Member
Apr 15, 2012
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Well, hm let's say AMD K12 is back or returned from hibernation. :mask:



AMD have stated in earnings calls that they have ongoing research into ARM solutions. Even when they cancelled K12, they didn't just stop looking at ARM entirely, they just realized that at the time, the eco system for ARM wasn't there and AMD wasn't in a position to fund development of products without immediate financial gain. I am sure AMD has a small team continuously analyzing ARM and possible AMD products using the ARM architecture. If/when that small team turns into a full product development team is the unknown. Perhaps it's already happened (as the twitter rumor suggests), or it could be a misunderstanding and the 'almost ready' comment is more that AMD is almost ready to transition to fully funding an ARM chip which means it won't come out for at least a couple of years. Either way, if AMD is almost ready with an ARM CPU or almost ready to fully develop one, it shouldn't be too long before we get additional hints through earnings reports and other leaks.
 
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Asterox

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May 15, 2012
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AMD have stated in earnings calls that they have ongoing research into ARM solutions. Even when they cancelled K12, they didn't just stop looking at ARM entirely, they just realized that at the time, the eco system for ARM wasn't there and AMD wasn't in a position to fund development of products without immediate financial gain. I am sure AMD has a small team continuously analyzing ARM and possible AMD products using the ARM architecture. If/when that small team turns into a full product development team is the unknown. Perhaps it's already happened (as the twitter rumor suggests), or it could be a misunderstanding and the 'almost ready' comment is more that AMD is almost ready to transition to fully funding an ARM chip which means it won't come out for at least a couple of years. Either way, if AMD is almost ready with an ARM CPU or almost ready to fully develop one, it shouldn't be too long before we get additional hints through earnings reports and other leaks.
I can almost bet, "ARM K12 or K13 is live or it's already happened".Do you remember AMD Threadripper story? :grinning:

 

DisEnchantment

Golden Member
Mar 3, 2017
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I can almost bet, "ARM K12 or K13 is live or it's already happened".Do you remember AMD Threadripper story? :grinning:
if you only intent to build an ARM CPU, it is not really a challenge. Just take an ARM reference design and select a PDK for it and go from there. For someone like AMD it is piece of cake.
Most of the work done by all our SoC vendors, who supply us ARM SoCs is actually building the stuff around it.
DSPs, peripherals, clock trees, memory subsystems, and the big elephant, baseband IP, etc are which are not part of ARM offerings.
In fact Baseband is the main thing that is eleminating many players like NV for example from the game.

Talking to ARM SoC vendors is one of the responsibilities in my day job, we have a few suppliers and we work with them constantly to industrialize our products.
SoCs are a different game from CPUs. You have to continuously support your customer with BSP, Firmwares, drivers, Audio Frameworks, DSP toolkits, board designs and the like. Nothing is standardized.

if AMD decides to, getting X1 to market is easy peasy, question is what more do they want from it. How far do they want to tweak the architecture.
Snapdragon and Exynos for example carries mainly vanilla ARM cores with minor tweaks. They stopped developing their own cores a while ago.

If available I would be interested in an ARM desktop CPU which I can run Linux and Windows. I had a chance to work with Centriq some time ago, but lots of hair pulling to get stuff working.

On Linux, you really have to pull hairs to get lots of stuff working with the ARM SBCs that I have personally for my private projects. Not sure about Windows.
Most of the stuff to get it working (besides launching a console) is closed source, good luck getting stuff to run without any developer/customer account.
 

Doug S

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Feb 8, 2020
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AMD have stated in earnings calls that they have ongoing research into ARM solutions. Even when they cancelled K12, they didn't just stop looking at ARM entirely, they just realized that at the time, the eco system for ARM wasn't there and AMD wasn't in a position to fund development of products without immediate financial gain.
I'm not sure anything has changed there. Why should people buy an ARM server chip from AMD instead of an x86 server chip? The performance/power difference between the two, given the same amount of design effort, would be pretty small. And there's no way they'd get the same amount of design effort, given how much bigger the x86 market is. What's more, x86 is a duopoly so they can charge higher prices for performance x than they could with ARM where you have cheaply licensed cores like X1 available from ARM.

In the PC world, the only market for ARM is in the low end for Chromebook type stuff. Chromebook vendors might want a performance boost versus using bottom end crap x86 CPUs, but they can get that Qualcomm who will be using something like the SD888 SoC (cut down to remove the modem - because if having a modem becomes a sales feature then AMD is SOL) AMD designs would also have to add separate chips for stuff that Qualcomm integrates like Wifi and BT.

If AMD comes out with an M1 competitor good for them, but I don't see who is going to buy it. No, I don't mean the kind of people reading this forum, I mean average people who will drive enough volume to make it worth AMD's effort to design and bring it to market.
 

Tup3x

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Dec 31, 2016
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By the way, x64 emulation is now available in insider builds: https://blogs.windows.com/windows-insider/2020/12/10/introducing-x64-emulation-in-preview-for-windows-10-on-arm-pcs-to-the-windows-insider-program/

Also it looks like they have made their OpenGL compatibility layer available for testing:

Those should help a lot with getting legacy apps running on ARM.
 
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NTMBK

Lifer
Nov 14, 2011
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I can almost bet, "ARM K12 or K13 is live or it's already happened".Do you remember AMD Threadripper story? :grinning:

Threadripper was just a repackaging of already completed CPU design into a different product. You can't develop a competitive CPU architecture as a spare time project, it's just not feasible.
 

moinmoin

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Jun 1, 2017
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Threadripper was just a repackaging of already completed CPU design into a different product. You can't develop a competitive CPU architecture as a spare time project, it's just not feasible.
The whole Zen products range is an exercise in taking already completed designs and offering them as products in different markets. Fewest possible amount of distinct dies, largest possible TAM.
 

Daneden

Junior Member
Nov 8, 2020
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Well, I see the possibility that AMD is developing an ARM chip for Samsung mobile phones.
Samsung stopped their own development and they will also have some kind of RDNA chip from AMD for their smart phones.
 

moinmoin

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Jun 1, 2017
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Well, I see the possibility that AMD is developing an ARM chip for Samsung mobile phones.
Samsung stopped their own development and they will also have some kind of RDNA chip from AMD for their smart phones.
We will have to see how that partnership goes. The original report last year said Samsung is just licensing the RDNA IP from AMD. If however AMD is actually more actively involved like with its other semi custom projects (like consoles) AMD having influence on the ARM (uncore) design is a real possibility.
 

Daneden

Junior Member
Nov 8, 2020
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We will have to see how that partnership goes. The original report last year said Samsung is just licensing the RDNA IP from AMD. If however AMD is actually more actively involved like with its other semi custom projects (like consoles) AMD having influence on the ARM (uncore) design is a real possibility.
When AMD talks about licensing IP its usually doing the design too. It was like this for the consoles and for the chinese Zen clone (Hygon). Except its a seperate chip like the Intel AMD combo for notebooks some years ago (Raja's ticket to Intel).

Just imagine a Samsung chip designed by AMD to compete Apples latest and greatest mobile chips. It easy to port such a design to lower power notebooks like Apple M1.

A good side effect of such a collaboration between AMD and Samsung would be that AMD gets a deep inside look of the latest Samsung foundry process (Nanosheet 3nm) because thats what they use for their high end mobile chips first.
 

Hitman928

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Apr 15, 2012
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When AMD talks about licensing IP its usually doing the design too. It was like this for the consoles and for the chinese Zen clone (Hygon). Except its a seperate chip like the Intel AMD combo for notebooks some years ago (Raja's ticket to Intel).

Just imagine a Samsung chip designed by AMD to compete Apples latest and greatest mobile chips. It easy to port such a design to lower power notebooks like Apple M1.

A good side effect of such a collaboration between AMD and Samsung would be that AMD gets a deep inside look of the latest Samsung foundry process (Nanosheet 3nm) because thats what they use for their high end mobile chips first.
The Chinese situation was different, for political purposes it was a join venture and AMD was very restricted with what they could actually provide to the Chinese companies. The console chips are semi-custom deals, not IP deals. Samsung is an IP deal, Samsung is the one actually designing and fabricating the chip, at least that's what it was when announced. If Samsung wants AMD to be more involved, I'm sure AMD would be willing to oblige, but Samsung will have to start giving semi-custom type compensation to AMD rather than IP compensation.
 
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soresu

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Dec 19, 2014
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Not AMD related but ARM related....

Finally more news about Rockchip RK3588:

  • CPU – 4x Cortex-A76 and 4x Cortex-A55 cores in dynamIQ configuration
  • GPU – Arm Mali “Odin” MP4 GPU
  • AI Accelerator – 6 TOPS NPU 3.0 (Neural Processing Unit)
  • VPU – 8Kp60 video decoding support, 8Kp30 encoding support
  • Memory I/F – LPDDR4x/LPDDR5 up to 32GB
  • Storage – eMMC 5.1, SDIO, SATA 3.0 (multiplexed with PCIe 2.0)
  • Video Output
    • Dual HDMI 2.1 / eDP up to 8Kp60 or 4Kp120
    • Dual DisplayPort up to 4Kp60
    • Dual MIPI DSI output
    • Up to four independent displays
  • Camera – 48M (2x 24M) ISP with HDR and 3D NR support; multi-camera input
  • Audio – Microphone array support
  • Networking – Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 2.0
  • PCIe – 4-lane PCIe 3.0, and 3x PCIe 2.0 (multiplexed with SATA)
  • Manufacturing process – 8nm LP
Or in picture form from a Rockchip conference:



Launch seems to have been pushed back to Q2/Q3 2021.

Don't ask me what Mali "Odin" is, but it's different from what was listed originally as "Natt".

I would wager with a name like Odin it is either G78 or maybe G79.

Though with the core count at MP4 this disqualifies it as strictly G78 is >=MP7 and everything <= MP6 is G58, basically it's the same and just named differently based on the number of cores.

If it is in fact just G58 at MP4 it would finally beyond a doubt exceed the now ancient Tegra X1 GPU, and coupled with 4xA76 would make a pretty nice SBC chip.

The naming of Odin though instead of G78/G58 does imply that it may be G79/G59 - so much the better if so.
 
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KompuKare

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Jul 28, 2009
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Q3 for quad core A76 seems rather late though.
Still if it turns up in SBC it might be interesting if cheap.
 

NTMBK

Lifer
Nov 14, 2011
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So, from what I understand of ARM licensing... an architectural license DOESN'T give you the rights to sell your CPU IP on to a third party. That would put you in direct competition with ARM's IP licensing business.

So what I could see happening is a "reverse license" situation. Samsung licenses everything else needed to make a good smartphone chip to AMD- modem, uncore, DSP, image processor, etc. Then AMD combines that with an AMD designed CPU and GPU, creates an "AMD" chip which just happens to be built at a Samsung fab, and exclusively sell it to Samsung.

That set up would let Samsung get a good custom CPU as a replacement for their Mongoose architecture, without breaking ARM licensing rules.
 

moinmoin

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Jun 1, 2017
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So, from what I understand of ARM licensing... an architectural license DOESN'T give you the rights to sell your CPU IP on to a third party. That would put you in direct competition with ARM's IP licensing business.

So what I could see happening is a "reverse license" situation. Samsung licenses everything else needed to make a good smartphone chip to AMD- modem, uncore, DSP, image processor, etc. Then AMD combines that with an AMD designed CPU and GPU, creates an "AMD" chip which just happens to be built at a Samsung fab, and exclusively sell it to Samsung.

That set up would let Samsung get a good custom CPU as a replacement for their Mongoose architecture, without breaking ARM licensing rules.
AMD already has an ARM architecture license of its own (since 2014), in fact every single Zen chip contains an ARM core (reportedly an ARM Cortex-A5). AMD would license newer ARM cores from ARM just like Samsung would (its customized Exynos core designs are reportedly no more). So that only leaves Samsung specific IPs.
 

soresu

Golden Member
Dec 19, 2014
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That set up would let Samsung get a good custom CPU as a replacement for their Mongoose architecture, without breaking ARM licensing rules.
The whole point of the Cortex Xn program is to allow for very high end cores with custom inclusions from partners.

So X2 from Samsung could easily be significantly different to X2 from Qualcomm.
Yeah, that logo design is so transparently like the Intel logo. You have to wonder who makes these dumb decisions.
Their PR is so anemic that it would hardly be worth Intel's time to dispute it I think.
Very late. Should be on A77 by now.
Late perhaps, but they haven't had any core update since A72, so even A76 should be a treat either way, especially on 8nm considering RK3399 is still on 28nm.

Also their STB/SBC competitor Amlogic is likely only going to be using A76 with S908X/S928X also, so they have little reason to be aggressive on that score.
 
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LightningZ71

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Mar 10, 2017
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The above post covers it well. In the market this will live in, lower cost set top boxes and SBCs, this is essentially state of the art outside of the Nvidia Shield. No one else has anything markedly faster by any metric. If they can get this pushed out with a unit cost under $150, they'll move a few.
 
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Mar 11, 2004
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I'd wager AMD has been continuing some form of ARM projects if for no other reason than it being important to semi-custom, as I can all but guarantee that Microsoft and Sony (we know Nintendo already was) looked at possibly going ARM for the consoles.

if you only intent to build an ARM CPU, it is not really a challenge. Just take an ARM reference design and select a PDK for it and go from there. For someone like AMD it is piece of cake.
Most of the work done by all our SoC vendors, who supply us ARM SoCs is actually building the stuff around it.
DSPs, peripherals, clock trees, memory subsystems, and the big elephant, baseband IP, etc are which are not part of ARM offerings.
In fact Baseband is the main thing that is eleminating many players like NV for example from the game.

Talking to ARM SoC vendors is one of the responsibilities in my day job, we have a few suppliers and we work with them constantly to industrialize our products.
SoCs are a different game from CPUs. You have to continuously support your customer with BSP, Firmwares, drivers, Audio Frameworks, DSP toolkits, board designs and the like. Nothing is standardized.

if AMD decides to, getting X1 to market is easy peasy, question is what more do they want from it. How far do they want to tweak the architecture.
Snapdragon and Exynos for example carries mainly vanilla ARM cores with minor tweaks. They stopped developing their own cores a while ago.

If available I would be interested in an ARM desktop CPU which I can run Linux and Windows. I had a chance to work with Centriq some time ago, but lots of hair pulling to get stuff working.

On Linux, you really have to pull hairs to get lots of stuff working with the ARM SBCs that I have personally for my private projects. Not sure about Windows.
Most of the stuff to get it working (besides launching a console) is closed source, good luck getting stuff to run without any developer/customer account.
AMD wouldn't need to build a full SoC like typical ARM chips. Especially if its going into PCs that don't need all of that stuff. Or they have other options, like partner with Google to make a chip that has AMD CPU and GPU and some other, and then integrate Google TPU or other AI processing chips, and put it in Chromebooks or maybe as a target for Fuschia. They could do the same with Microsoft.

AMD wouldn't need to do that. Google would be an easy partner, and I'd guess there's quite a few companies that might be interested (especially now that Apple and Amazon are showing ARM's potential) since Linux is big in enterprise. AMD I believe has more or less pivoted to the belief that just by being fairly open, that the open source community will develop a lot of tools to support it. Its somewhat slow going, but it seems to me that Linux enthusiasts/developers are pretty bullish on AMD, partly because they have compelling hardware, but also because AMD is giving them a fair amount of what they need to develop better support for that hardware in Linux.

Heck, I don't even think modem is that much of an issue as Apple is looking to ditch Qualcomm, and from what I gathered quite a bit of higher shareholders in the latter would prefer if they dropped development of their own processors. Xilinx obviously adds a wrinkle there, but it might not be prohibitive (might even make such a partnership more enticing for AMD and Qualcomm). Intel and Nvidia/ARM might be more lucrative partners (but then perhaps Qualcomm would want all 3 as partners). That would be beneficial for all I'd guess.
 

Thibsie

Senior member
Apr 25, 2017
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Well, I see the possibility that AMD is developing an ARM chip for Samsung mobile phones.
Samsung stopped their own development and they will also have some kind of RDNA chip from AMD for their smart phones.
Stopped their custom cores development afaict
 

jpiniero

Lifer
Oct 1, 2010
12,794
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Stopped their custom cores development afaict
Yeah. I would have to think that it's nothing more than Samsung licensing RDNA2 as opposed to say Mali. And Samsung is just licensing some ARM CPU design although AMD helping I guess does make sense.
 

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