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AMD To Put An ARM Core On Future Fusion APUs

AMD

Published on 13 June 2012 12:14 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
89 Comments

AMD will be placing an ARM Cortex-A5 on future-generation Fusion APUs as what initially they are saying is for hardware-based security measures via ARM TrustZone Technology.

At the AMD Fusion Developer Summit in Bellevue, Washington there was an announcement on Tuesday that AMD, ARM, Imagination, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments would be joining forces to form the HSA Foundation.

The Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation is poised to "define and promote an open, standards-based approach to heterogeneous computing that will provide a common hardware specification and broad support ecosystem to make it easier for software developers to deliver innovative applications that can take greater advantage of today’s modern processors." The HSA Foundation goes without Intel's support. The HSA press release can be read at AMD.com for more details as to what's been announced thus far.

The announcement today from the AMD Fusion conference in Bellevue is that future Fusion APUs (beginning in 2013) will find an ARM core on them, beginning on the lower-end Fusion parts and eventually working their way to all of the AMD APU models in 2014 and beyond.

AMD's reasoning for having an ARM core (or multiple cores) on future Fusion APUs is in the same of security. By having Cortex-A5 core(s) on the APU, they can take advantage of ARM TrustZone Security Technology and its hardware-based security measures to deliver "more secure computing experiences" and to "significantly expand the security ecosystem."

Details are still scarce right now on all of AMD's ARM plans, but speculations about AMD licensing ARM IP has been running high for months. The official details are mentioned in this morning's press release. The ARM-enabled Fusion APUs will begin to roll-out in 2013 and will continue into 2014.

Right now AMD isn't promoting the integration of the Cortex-A5 as for any mixed-mode execution support for being able to execute both native x86 and ARMv7 instructions on the same processor, but that likely wouldn't be ruled out as a future possibility. The embedded Cortex-A5 is said to be a fully-functional ARM core on these future Fusion products.

The Cortex-A5 isn't exactly an ARM power-house with this being their lowest-cost and most energy efficient ARM processor. The Cortex-A5 is primarily for low-end smart-phones, low-cost handsets, and other lower-end mobile devices. Hopefully we'll see some higher-end ARM support in AMD products in the future when ARMv8 is ready, etc.

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