Possibly feeling the heat from upcoming Android-based devices running on Intel's "Haswell" processors, AMD is reportedly finally embracing both Android and Chrome OS after previously snubbing its nose at Google's mobile OS and confessing its love for Windows 8. But with OEMs shifting over to a more diverse OS market to boost revenue in a declining Windows-based market, AMD undoubtedly sees that it has to follow suit and support more than just Microsoft's platform.
"We are very committed to Windows 8; we think it's a great operating system, but we also see a market for Android and Chrome developing as well," said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of global business units at AMD, in an interview at Computex. She said AMD is expanding its OS options as it develops chips based on x86 and ARM architecture.
The news arrives after AMD launched back in April the new AMD Embedded G-Series System-on-Chip (SOC) platform, a single-chip solution based on the AMD next-generation "Jaguar" CPU architecture, AMD Radeon 8000 Series graphics and an integrated I/O module. It will have a power envelope of 9W to 25W, and be used in products like Smart TVs, set-top boxes, informational kiosks and more.
However the new series brought along with it a new branding. At the bottom-right corner of the label is a small "X", and signifies that it's an x86-based chip. AMD also plans to release an ARM version in this series as well, designated with a small "A" in the same place and with a power consumption possibly less than 3W. That's right: ARM-based CPU cores snuggled up against Radeon GPU cores on the same chip. How cozy.
"Ultimately, we're going to have x86 and ARM in our product portfolio," said AMD's Arun Iyengar in a brief note with Engadget.
In addition to the Embedded G Series, AMD is expected to launch ARM-based server chips in 2014. Paving the way is the AMD Opteron X-Series family of low-power x86 server APUs, namely the X1150 and X2150. The latter chip has a TDP range of 11 to 22 watts, and features four "Jaguar" 64-bit x86 cores clocked up to 1.9 GHz, 128 AMD Radeon HD 8000 GPU cores, and a 64-bit memory interface. The X1150 chip only consumes between 9 and 17 watts of power, and features four "Jaguar" 64-bit x86 cores clocked up to 2 GHz – no GPU cores are included.
With AMD embracing ARM's architecture, the company is taking a less-than-direct approach in combating Intel which is currently dominating the server and mobile markets. Unlike AMD, Intel has developed drivers for and ARM-native Android platform that are compatible with Intel's x86-based Atom chips. AMD is using a two-pronged approach by developing two separate chips while also supporting Android apps on an x86-based architecture (BlueStacks).
"I think Android and Chrome tend to be in the entry form factors—the tablets, the low-end clamshells," Su said. She wouldn't comment on when these AMD-based Android devices would hit the market, but admitted that the company is working with developers on Android apps running on AMD chips.
After facing lackluster results from Windows-based tablets featuring its Z-01 and Z-60 chips, AMD is attempting to conquer the tablet market again with its A4 and A6 "Temash" 64-bit APUs which were announced last month. Designed for Windows 8 devices, power consumption will be as low as 3.9 watts and battery life up to eight hours. Temash-based devices are expected to launch in the second half of 2013.