At a recent event, AMD CEO Rory Read did not commit to using ARM chip designs, but said he was keeping the option open if customers demand it.
Advanced Micro Devices may be more willing than in the past
to embrace ARM chip designs to meet customer demand in the booming mobile
computing space, the latest example of the company's willingness to change
under the leadership of new CEO Rory Read
During a speech Dec. 13 at the IT Supply Chain conference
and in conversations with analysts at the show, Read indicated that AMD has not
ruled out adopting the ARM architecture for particular chips if it means being
able to get customers what they want.
In what they called a "fireside chat" with Read at
the show, Raymond James analysts Hans Mosesmann and Brian Petersen said in a
note that Read showed a level of enthusiasm and passion for AMD that had not
been seen from a CEO since founder Jerry Sanders ran the show more than a
decade ago. The two analysts also noted that if their reading of Read's plans is
correct, some of the new CEO's ideas run counter to what Sanders would have
That would include adopting a chip architecture that isn't
x86, but rather the low-power ARM platform used by such companies as Qualcomm,
Texas Instruments, Samsung Electronics and Nvidia and currently dominant in the
fast-growing smartphone and tablet spaces. Read apparently wasn't definitive in
whether the company will move in that direction, but he did say AMD is keeping
the option open.
"Mr. Read (for the first time, we believe) suggested
that an ARM-based system on chip (SoC) is not out of the question if that's
what customers prefer," the analysts wrote in their note. "Heresy by
AMD's historical standards, but quite consistent with Mr. Read's philosophy of
winning in the market: execution, innovation, and convergence."
This isn't the first time the idea of AMD embracing the ARM
architecture has been raised. Earlier this year, speculation arose when an ARM
executive was listed as a keynote speaker at AMD's inaugural Fusion Developer
Summit in June. Some saw it as an indication that AMD could be interested in
partnering with or buying ARM as a way to gain traction in the mobile device
However, John Taylor, director of client product and
software marketing at AMD, said there was no deal in the works with ARM, although
he didn't rule out a relationship between the two companies in the future.
"ARM sees the world very similarly to how AMD does,"
Taylor told eWEEK
May. "We're constantly looking at where the market is headed and
evaluating what our customer requirements are. ... Clearly there's common ground
between AMD and ARM [in regard to] balanced computing and the GPU as the key
platform pushing the [computing] experience forward, but not at the expense of
Read apparently is being much more open about the idea than
past AMD CEOs.
"At the end of the day, it has to be market
driven and by the customer," Read said, according to a MarketWatch report
. "We have a lot of IP and
a lot of capability. We're going to continue to play those cards, but as you
move forward, making sure that you're able to be ambidextrous is definitely a