In a move to break into mobile devices, the chipmaker has teamed up with ARM and other key mobile tech players — but not Intel — to set up a consortium to develop a common hardware standard for system-on-a-chip
Chipmaker AMD has moved to break into mobile devices, by hooking up with ARM and other mobile leaders to create a common hardware specification for systems that combine CPUs and GPUs.
The Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation, which launched
on Tuesday, said it will create the specification. The consortium's
members include chipmaker AMD and Cambridge-based chip
designer ARM, as well as mobile players Imagination Technologies,
MediaTek and Texas
Instruments, but not industry heavyweight Intel.
AMD is teaming up with ARM to create a common hardware standard for system-on-a-chip, such as AMD's desktop-centric Trinity chipsets.Image credit: AMD
"HSA is unlocking a new realm of possibilities across PCs,
smartphones, tablets and ultra-thin notebooks, as well as the
innovative supercomputers and cloud services that define the modern
computing experience," HSA president Phil Rogers, an AMD
corporate fellow, said in a statement.
AMD, which is established in the PC and server market, said in February that it intended to draw
on the expertise of mobile chip companies in its quest to break
into mobile devices. Once established, the specification will allow greater portability of code between desktop and mobile devices that adhere to its requirements.
HSA moves the industry beyond the constraints of the legacy system architecture of the past 25-plus years that is now stifling software innovations.– Phil Rogers, HSA
"Graphical interfaces are critical to the user experience, but can
have a power impact. With open standards, developers can now provide
outstanding graphics without compromising power efficiency," ARM's media
processor chief Jem Davies said in the statement.
Graphics processing units, or GPUs, are increasingly being used
alongside CPUs to add extra parallel processing power to so-called
systems-on-a-chip (SoCs). AMD's desktop-centric
Trinity chipsets are a prime example of this, as are the chipsets
powering many newer mobile devices.
HSA has promised to provide developers
with tools, software development kits (SDKs), documentation
and training, but did not give a time frame for their arrival.
Meanwhile, both AMD and ARM are locked in battle with Intel. AMD
has so far focused on the same x86 architecture that Intel uses.
However, ARM's more power-efficient architecture is the basis of most
mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets — a sector Intel
is desperate to invade. HSA co-founders Imagination, MediaTek and
Texas Instruments all build products using ARM architecture.
In their statement, the companies said the foundation will improve
user experiences, cloud-based data management, streaming and security.
appeared to take a shot at x86, the de facto computing architecture
standard in recent decades.
"HSA moves the industry beyond the constraints of the legacy system
architecture of the past 25-plus years that is now stifling software
innovations," Rogers said. "By aiming HSA squarely at the needs of the
software developer, we have designed a common hardware platform for
high-performance, energy-efficient solutions."
According to Imagination marketing chief Tony King-Smith, the new
architecture specification will support multiple types of operating
system, and will use "industry standard APIs such as OpenCL,
Renderscript Compute and Direct Compute", with those APIs
complementing the HSA APIs.
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