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back to article AMD's newest chip: Another step toward 'transformation'

AMD has added a new low-power chip to its embedded lineup in its ongoing effort to transform from a maker of client and server chippery into a company that earns 40 per cent or more of its revenue from embedded and "semi-custom" chips. "We're filling out the family," Arun Iyengar, VP and general manager of AMD's Embedded …

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eleventy squillion x86 developers?

I know some people work on compilers, debuggers and emulators. Perhaps some of them only work on x86. For years I have had no real need to look at assembly language. These days only difference I see between ARM, x86 and MIPS is the name of the compiler if I am cross compiling. Qemu is so seamless that I do not even notice if the self tests are executed by an emulated CPU.

Are there really (m)any more x86 developers than ARM?

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Re: eleventy squillion x86 developers?

Pretty much. And ARM cores are getting good enough now that the hassle of cross compiling is unnecessary on a lot of them. You can just install linux and code for them in exactly the way you would an x86 machine.

I know that in the last few years we've not had much of a heterogeneous landscape in workstations or even servers, but when it comes down to it even C code, lower than most people get to, is easy enough to write to target multiple different platforms. We used to compile and run on Itanium, PA RISC, Sparc, Power and x86 from the same codebase, and so long as you account for variations in endianness, there really wasn't much difference for the majority of the code. I don't think going to ARM is really any different.

Now vector processing and GPU code, that's a different ballgame.

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Re: eleventy squillion x86 developers?

Your talking from a Software perspective.

How about the number of x86 Hardware developers?

n.b. I don't know the answer.

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AMD vs Intel

I've always had a soft-spot for these guys, a remnant from the days when they went head-to-head with Intel after IBM bowed out of the 80386 chip-race and they were the only ones left opposing Intels world domination.

Good thing they didn't back down either or this would be a Intel world now, which means higher prices and slower development due to lack of healthy competition.

Don't really care what they're up to these days (and developments a going too fast for me to follow) but i wish them all the best in whatever they're doing because Intel is still top dog and they're still hot on their trail :)

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Re: AMD vs Intel

What keeps Intel prices in check today is the imminent switch over to ARM on the desktop. With tablets and servers, pressure is coming from both sides.

Apple have already shown they are capable of and willing to throw out an existing architecture when it is time to do so. With Windows 8 RT, Microsoft has their escape route too. It's only a matter of time.

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Re: AMD vs Intel

Well said. You've just made me go and google Cyrix, I always wondered what happened to those guys, they made cheap chips which "nearly" outperformed Intel's own.

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Re: AMD vs Intel

Cyrix pushed the envelope too hard and released chips that overheated and had flaws. That is what did them in.

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Re: AMD vs Intel

AMD had the market in its grasp and then thought it would be a good idea to massively over pay and get sidetracked buying ATI. Since then they have been playing catch up and trying to blame everything on Intel.

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Headmaster

Re: AMD vs Intel

Cyrix pushed the envelope too hard and released chips that overheated and had flaws. That is what did them in.

Are you making shit up while your troll?

At Wakypedia, we read:

In August 1997 .... Cyrix merged with National Semiconductor (who also already held an Intel cross-license). This provided Cyrix with an extra marketing arm and access to National Semiconductor fabrication plants ... Cyrix eventually switched all their production over to National's plant. The merger improved Cyrix's financial base and gave them much better access to development facilities. ...

The last Cyrix-badged microprocessor was the Cyrix MII-433GP which ran at 300 MHz (100x3) and performed faster than an AMD K6/2-300 on FPU calculations (as benched with Dr. Hardware). However, this chip was regularly pitted against actual 433 MHz processors from other manufacturers. Arguably this made the comparison unfair, even though it was directly invited by Cyrix's own marketing.

National Semiconductor distanced itself from the CPU market, and without direction, the Cyrix engineers left one by one. By the time National Semiconductor sold Cyrix to VIA Technologies, the design team was no more and the market for the MII had disappeared. VIA used the Cyrix name on a chip designed by Centaur Technology, since VIA believed Cyrix had better name recognition than Centaur, or possibly even VIA.

Cyrix's failure is described by Glenn Henry CEO of Centaur Technology as "Cyrix had a good product, but they got bought by a 'big smokestack' company and they got bloated. When Via bought Cyrix, they had 400, and we had 60, and we were turning out more product."

National Semiconductor retained the MediaGX design for a few more years, renaming it the Geode and hoping to sell it as an integrated processor. They sold the Geode to AMD in 2003.

In June 2006, AMD unveiled the world's lowest-power x86-compatible processor that consumes only 0.9 watts of power. This processor is based on the Geode core, demonstrating that Cyrix's architectural ingenuity still survives.

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Re: AMD vs Intel

You forgot to include these bits while you were throwing your poo

>With the MII's 83 MHz bus, this resulted in the PCI bus running alarmingly out of spec at 41.5 MHz. At this speed, many PCI devices could become unstable or fail to operate.

>Almost all of the 6x86 line produced a large amount of heat, and required quite large heatsink/fan combos (for the time) to run properly. There was also a problem which made the 6x86 incompatible with the then-popular Sound Blaster AWE64 sound card.

From another source

>Cyrix today today hit back at suggestions that it has hit rocky ground with its flagship line of 6x86 processors, after some reports suggested that it has experienced overheating problems caused by clocking the chips too high.

>"The 6x86 is a fast part and it does draw more heat than the Pentium," said Paul Norman, Cyrix regional manager for central Europe. "We bundle it with a heat-sink and fan and have had no problems, but unfortunately people buy it on the grey market and get something like a 75MHz Pentium fan that doesn't let it run cool enough. [The grey market] probably affects Intel more than it does us; it's one of those things that you'll never be able to overcome."

Back in those days cpu heat sinks and fans weren't as well built and often failed much sooner than they do today. This wikipedia article has its opinion but I had been an adult buying computers 20 years before this so I saw first hand what happened. Cyrix developed a recommendation for running hot and being glitchy so the OEMS avoided them like the plague.

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Re: AMD vs Intel

>developed a recommendation

developed a reputation what it should say obviously.

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Optional

What a inert quaint view of the world. Sounds like nVidia is about to eat poor AMD's lunch last gasp then.

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AMD is focused on all viable revenue streams

AMD is not abandoning the X86 market at all. They are just expanding their offerings into other markets as the PC industry matures and sales plateau. This is what all businesses must do to survive. Intel's sales are down as are most companies in the PC industry.

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Re: AMD is focused on all viable revenue streams

I agree. It certainly looks like a classic case of diversification. As the PC market is reaching saturation, AMD have been smart to look at other ways to leverage its experience. That's why they bought ATI: so they'd have a GPU for use in their CPU/GPU combinations. It seems AMD correctly saw ahead because we're seeing plenty of GPU-equipped SoC's. Expanding into ARM? Savvy bet hedging.

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Re: AMD is focused on all viable revenue streams

That is why their share price is less than $4 a share eh? About the same level it was during the height of the great recession.

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can't resist

Hmm maybe AMD should have bought ARM instead of ATI. They might actually have not reverted back to their usual business model of being an also ran to Intel as well had they not pissed away billions and got distracted with ATI.

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Headmaster

Re: can't resist

Why buy ARM when you can license?

Did they even have the money to get a controlling interest of overvalued stock in?

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Re: can't resist

Honestly I can't say for sure buying ARM was smart but it was pretty obvious at the time to everybody but Hector Ruiz that buying ATI for over 5 billion was stupid. Hector had bodies to bury though so he went through with it. I think the goodwill write down was only half on the purchase which would make it a roaring success in the eyes of HP.

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Re: can't resist

Well, maybe so.

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ARM king in the datacentre?

No wonder. It's impossible to buy decent ARM-based blades. According to our supplier, they are in development. But then, they have been for over a year now. We are still buying x86 because that's available.

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AMD just took a different path to the lower power goal than Intel, Intel are pursuing efficiencies in x86 instead (I am not saying this is bad or not just different). What will be interesting is can AMD get back into the DC Market with this or into Tablets and phones which are not seeing massively declining sales, that is yet to be seen. Being inside the PS4 and Xbox One is a lifeline but I don't believe its enough to be a future.

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Clerk

Can anyone forget that Intel runs AMD_64?

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