AMD's New Embedded Roadmap Features x86, ARM and GPUs
9/11/2013 by: Marcus Pollice
Similar to previous years, AMD held a press conference in the immediate vicinity of Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. This time the company used the event to publicize their products targetting the embedded market in 2014. The announcement includes an ARM SoC, x86 CPUs and APUs, a x86 SoC and a discrete graphics card.
People familiar with AMDs products aimed at other segments will notice that these codenames and their associated specs line up well with other products at AMD. For example what 'Bald Eagle' is for embedded is called
Kaveri for client PCs and Berlin for servers
. The truth of the matter is that AMD is looking for new markets they can sell their products in, which is the strategy they announced last year to become more successful in the near future. Having a larger market to sell silicon chips to helps recoup the R&D investment more quickly.
AMD put up a number of slides that attempt to justify their move into this direction. They pointed out that those embedded markets they are now targetting have significantly stronger growth rates compared to markets AMD traditionally would be in. From this point of view it makes a lot of sense to target these markets with specifically tailored products.
The 'Bald Eagle' APU/CPUs shouldn't be a big surprise. This is basically Berlin retrofitted for embedded markets. Similarly the 'Steppe Eagle' is the embedded version of the expected refresh of Kabini, which incorporates minor improvements at the microarchitectural level that are called Jaguar+. These two products should enter the market towards the end of the first quarter of next year.
With 'Adelaar' AMD brings a GCN-based discrete graphics card into the embedded market. AMD didn't provide any specs beyond it featuring 2GB of GDDR5 memory with 72 GB/s of bandwidth. Looking at AMDs current GPU offerings that points to a Cape Verde based solution, that is currently used in Radeon 7730, 7750 and 7770 GPUs and ranges from 384 to 640 stream processors. It would become available in MCM or MXM form factors in addition to the usual PCIe add-in card option. The card is supposed to be launched at the beginning of 2014.
Finally AMD also announced an ARM part for embedded markets. The codename is Hierofalcon and it basically is a scaled down version of Seattle that was announced a few months ago. AMD plans to integrate 4-8 Cortex-A57 cores with 10GbE in a 15-30W TDP space. Given this data point it is fair to assume a 60W TDP for the 16 core version of Seattle. AMDs Andrew Feldman wouldn't confirm the number exactly but conceded it would be a good estimate. AMD also detailed that Hierofalcon and by extension Seattle would feature PCIe 3.0 connectivity.
The remaining question is what kind of applications those products would target. To answer that AMD put up another slide that gives an overview over how diverse the embedded market landscape actually looks like. AMD wants to get a foothold in a range of those exemplified here, especially those with a higher growth rate. Specialization is key to succeed here and even though AMD stresses there is less competition in these markets, they are not quite alone either. So it will be very interesting which of their embedded products will be very successful and which won't.
AMD, Intel, IDF 2013, IDF, APU, Embedded, GPU, SoC, Graphics, Enterprise, Compute, OpenCL
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