AMD likely to announce ARM-based server on Monday

The CEOs of both companies are due to hold a press conference at the start of next week

AMD has called a press conference in San Francisco on Monday where it's likely to announce plans for a SeaMicro server based on an upcoming 64-bit processor design from ARM.

AMD CEO Rory Read is expected at the event, and an ARM spokesman confirmed Thursday that ARM CEO Warren East will be there as a "special guest." AMD is also arranging press briefings at the event with Andrew Feldman, who was CEO of SeaMicro before AMD bought the company this year.

Those factors combined suggest that AMD will announce plans to offer a SeaMicro server based on an ARM processor. ARM's chip designs are known for their low power consumption, and energy efficiency is a hallmark of the SeaMicro systems.

Spokespeople for AMD and ARM declined to comment.

Feldman has long held that the SeaMicro server platform can work with any type of CPU, and he was a speaker at ARM's technology conference last year, when Applied Micro announced plans to build an ARM server platform.

"Feldman has been vocal about his technology fitting with ARM for a long time," said Insight64 analyst Nathan Brookwood.

AMD's press invitation says Monday's event is to discuss its "ambidextrous strategy," a plan it outlined in February to use other companies' technologies in its products.

SeaMicro made its name by developing technologies that allow it to build highly dense, power-efficient servers for Internet-scale workloads. The technologies include a network fabric that can link thousands of servers at low latency, and a custom chip that replaces most of the components on a standard server board.

SeaMicro's first products were based on Intel's Atom and Xeon processors, and SeaMicro was a close partner of Intel before being bought by AMD for US$334 million. Last month it said it would also offer a server based on an AMD Opteron processor.

But SeaMicro's roots are in low-power designs, so it would make sense for AMD to offer a server based on an ARM chip. Such chips are used in smartphones and tablets because of their low power characteristics.

AMD partnered with ARM earlier this year to use its TrustZone security technology in AMD processors, but it hasn't announced any plans yet to build an ARM-based CPU. That could be about to change, however.

ARM offers two types of licenses for its CPUs. Companies can take an architectural license, which allows them to design a processor from scratch based on the ARM architecture. Alternatively, they can license a processor design that ARM has already created and then enhance it with some of their own technology.

It's a "poorly kept secret" that ARM will announce its first 64-bit processor designs at its TechCon conference next week, Brookwood said. So AMD may well announce that it will license the design for use in SeaMicro servers.

AMD could build a system-on-chip that combines the ARM CPU with SeaMicro's custom chip. Melding the parts together on one chip would help reduce costs and enable even higher-density server designs.

That work would take time, however. If AMD were to make a 64-bit processor design available later this year, it would take a chip maker at least 12 to 18 months to turn that into a finished product, Brookwood said.

By that estimate, an ARM-based SeaMicro server would be in the market in 2014.

It probably wouldn't be the only company with such a product. Hewlett-Packard and Dell are just two of the vendors that are also pursuing ARM-based servers, as the industry looks to reduce power consumption in data centers.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags serversprocessorshardware systemsComponentsAdvanced Micro DevicesArm Holdings

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?