ADFS 2011 Wrapup & AMD Lynx Platform Tests

Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: July 18th, 2011

Keynote: ARM

ARM's Gem Davies presented a keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, to the surprise of many in attendance. This has been the subject of much speculation since it was announced, and while AMD has flatly denied any suggestions they are working with ARM, it's obvious something is up. We posited in April that AMD might be well placed to provide an APU strategy that doesn't depend entirely on x86-based processor cores. Mr. Davies keynote was quite light on specifics, but in general showed how ARM and AMD are aligning around the Fusion System Architecture concept.

Eat a whole small pie or get a big slice of a big pie?

A recurring theme from the ARM keynote was that the best way to make more money - get more pie - is not to try and bake a pie all for you, locked into proprietary technology, but to get a slice of a much, much bigger pie. Grow the pie, get more in your slice - everybody wins. Making money was a common theme throughout the Summit; nearly all presentations and keynotes were focused on leveraging heterogeneous compute power to differentiate product, to improve performance, and ultimately deliver more of what consumers want - and will pay for.

ARM's keynote focused on how energy efficiency was critical for future compute solutions, from handheld to datacenter. Power is pervasive, said Mr. Davies, and it drives decisions from 1W to 10KW especially now that the process node is no longer the savior. Power sloshing, such as that featured in AMD's Llano APU, is critical for providing performance while staying within a power budget and to use the space on die most efficiently.

Mali-T604 GPU with OpenCL support

ARM provided some details of their Mali T604 GPU, which is designed to provide 68GFLOPS in 1W and offer DirectX 11, OpenGL and OpenCL compliance. 68GFLOPS from a 1W design is very good perf/w, far exceeding AMD's excellent Radeon cores in their E-, C- and Z-series APUs. Imagine 1.5-3W superphones/tablets with dual ARM cores and a DirectX 11/OpenCL 1.1 capable GPU: nomnomnom. With this hardware coming, and offering support for AMD's FSAIL through adding 64-bit support, developers will be able to write code once and then optimize to the platform, rather than writing each device family from scratch. Less code base means lower costs, which can translate into faster time to market, better quality products, reduced time to synchronize updates across platforms or just more money.

ARM is a design company, more modular than AMD in how they provide bits of Intellectual Property (IP), and their list of licensees is huge - including, to Jon Peddies' amusement at his press round table, Intel. To all intents and purposes, ARM partners are being presented with huge opportunities in the next few years as smart phones, super phones, tablets and even servers will be appearing with more and more ARM-based designs in them. Microsoft wowed everyone with the announcement that Windows 8 will be available for ARM platforms as well as x86-based one; well, everyone except ARM was wowed - Windows CE has been around for a long time, and ARM have long considered no Windows desktop on an ARM processor an anomaly. What does this portend for Windows in the future? Given the shared kernel of Windows Server and desktop OSes, and hints of ARM in the datacenter at 10KW power sizes...