It will give AMD new business avenues to pursue, but it also will put the company into tighter competition with other ARM chip vendors. However, AMD has a history of making server chips, strong relationships with system OEMs and ODMs, and a large amount of IP that it can draw on, he said. In addition, AMD's history is all about spending the necessary money and effort to come out with upgraded chips every 12 to 18 months, a costly and difficult proposition for smaller companies like Calxeda and Applied Micro.
"The CPU business is no place for small companies," Feldman said. "It's just too expensive."
However, he acknowledged that larger ARM SoC makers Samsung and Qualcomm will be formidable rivals.
Intel is aggressively going after the microserver business with its low-power x86-based Atom platform. The company last year launched its "Centerton" Atom SoCs, and later this year will release the next generation, dubbed "Avoton." In addition, while Hewlett-Packard is planning for low-power microservers powered by ARM chips from AMD and others as part of its Project Moonshot effort, the first systems from the initiative will be powered by Intel chips. HP officials have said a Moonshot cartridge powered by AMD's upcoming low-power "Kyoto" chip will come out in the second half of 2013.
Intel officials, pointing to Avoton, have noted that the giant chip maker will be well into its second generation of Atom SoCs for microservers by the time the first ARM-based systems will hit the market.
However, Feldman said there is a lot of momentum behind the ARM server push. Not only does the computing environment and history favor it, but also systems makers like HP and Dell—both of whom are developing low-power servers that will run on ARM SoCs—want ARM to succeed in the data center, as do a rapidly growing group of end users, such as Facebook and Google.
He said he is excited to see what will happen over the next few years as ARM's presence in the data center grows.
"I think we're going to see unbelievable [stuff] with this," Feldman said. "It's going to be spectacular."