The interesting thing about a deal between AMD and ARM was that we knew they would not need to license CPU or GPU technology from them. Let’s face it Trinity is more than a match for any ARM SoC on the market (yes even Terga). Where AMD was lacking was in some of the features that Intel was shoving into their CPUs; advanced vector Instructions, security, advanced cryptography services. AMD could not keep up with Intel in these fields.
AMD’s inability to keep pace with Intel is not due to any lack of talent. We know that AMD can come up with amazing ideas. In fact we have AMD to thank for many of the innovations we get from other companies. Cuda would not be here if ATi/AMD had not first presented a method for using the GPU for Parallel computing. Physics powered by the GPU was also an AMD/ATi innovation. Unfortunately AMD did not have the money to push into these and rival nVidia got ahead of them in the market with PhysX and Cuda. AMD is pushing back with OpenCL, but that is a hard battle to win. AMD has other innovations that others have run off with. Intel borrowed and in many ways perfected the Internal Memory control in combination with Smart Cache.
Plainly put AMD’s weakness is money. They do not have the money (or the time really) to develop technology on their own right now. They will need to buy cheap, sell dear and partner where possible. The move to license security technology from ARM was expected and makes sense. Right now AMD needs technology to enhance the security of their APUs. ARMs TrustZone is the inexpensive way to do it.
It gives them what they need right now in an easy to implement format (AMD has licensed the ARM Cortex A5 Processor with TrustZone). The older Cortex-A5 will be smaller and easier to integrate into AMD’s APUs than the newer A9. It should also cost them less to work with leaving more money to work on other projects.
Additionally, this licensing agreement could give AMD a foot in the door for other ARM technology which they can use to augment their APU line as well as potentially their server and desktop CPUs.
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