Thursday, December 3, 2020

Rumor | AMD rumored to have a prototype Apple M1 competitor in the works


AMD may have an Apple M1 competitor in the works. Rumor is that there are two versions of this chip being developed, with and without integrated RAM. It is possible that AMD could be looking to revive its K12 Core design or improve on it with newer Cortex designs to exploit the highly lucrative ARM market.

Rumor AMD Apple ARM
The Apple M1 SoC seems to threaten Intel and AMD's x86 hegemony with excellent performance at low TDPs without the need for active cooling. Of course, x86 processors will continue to reign for quite some time as many industry standard programs are still compiled for x86_64.

However, Apple and Qualcomm may not be the only ones fighting it out in the ARM space. Rumor is that AMD is also looking to hop onto the custom ARM bogey, and such a product may not be very far off from now.

Known leaker Mauri QHD has tweeted that AMD has an M1 competitor prototype already in the works. He says that the company is developing two versions of the chip — one with integrated RAM and one without. Apparently, the prototype is "almost ready". No other information is available.

While information about the supposed M1 competitor is still scarce, this is not the first time we've been hearing about such new AMD design in the works.

Back in 2016, when Jim Keller was at the helm of CPU affairs at AMD, the company announced the K12 Core — a chip based on the 64-bit ARM v8 design. However, that chip never made it to market. Earlier this year, in May, Komachi Ensaka managed to put together an AMD roadmap that curiously listed a "K12 FFX" entry between the years 2017 and 2022.

Assuming that this so-called "K12 FFX" is for real, it may be intended for ultra-low power laptops and other mobile devices. Hopefully, by the time this chip hits market, Microsoft working together with AMD would be able to improve x86 emulation on ARM. Or better still, AMD can allow for an x86 consistency model like M1 to speed up legacy apps. This is something not currently possible on Snapdragon chips.

Not so long ago, AMD patents pertaining to "Instruction subset implementation for low power operation" surfaced online, which postulated several hybrid processor designs for mobile devices. While not fully clear if these designs are for x86 or ARM, it does point to the fact that a radically new low-power CPU architecture is indeed cooking in AMD labs.

As always, such rumors should be taken with a pinch of salt. In fact, there were rumors about an AMD Ryzen C7 ARM SoC with an RDNA2 mobile GPU onboard, which later turned out to be fake. However, the probability does not seem too distant at this point and traditional x86 chip makers would do well having an ARM portfolio as well.

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