In 2015 AMD will launch project SkyBridge, a pair of pin-compatible ARM and x86 based SoCs. Leveraging next generation Puma+ x86 cores or ARM's Cortex A57 cores, these SoCs form the foundation of the next phase in AMD's evolution where ARM and x86 are treated like equal class citizens. As I mentioned in today's post however, both of these designs really aim at the lower end of the performance segment. To address a higher performance market, AMD is doing what many ARM partners have done and is leveraging an ARM architecture license to design their own microarchitecture. 

In 2016 AMD will release its first custom 64-bit ARMv8 CPU core, codenamed K12. Jim Keller is leading the team that is designing the K12, as well as a corresponding new 64-bit x86 design. AMD is pretty quiet about K12 details at this point given how far away it is. Given the timing I'm assuming we're talking about a 14/16nm FinFET SoC. On the slide above we see that AMD is not only targeting servers and embedded markets, but also ultra low power client devices for its 64-bit ARM designs (presumably notebooks, chromebooks, tablets). AMD has shied away from playing in the phone market directly, but it could conceivably play in that space with its semi-custom business (offering just a CPU/GPU core with other IP). Update: AMD added that server, embedded and semi-custom markets are obvious targets for K12. 

There's also this discussion of modularity, treating both ARM and x86 cores as IP modules rather than discrete designs. AMD continues to have a lot of expertise in SoC design, all it really needs is a focus on improving single threaded performance. I can only hope (assume?) that K12 won't be Bulldozer-like and will hopefully prioritize single threaded performance. It's important to point out that there hasn't been a single reference to the Bulldozer family of CPU cores in any of these announcements either...

Update: Jim Keller added some details on K12. He referenced AMD's knowledge of doing high frequency designs as well as "extending the range" that ARM is in. Keller also mentioned he told his team to take the best of the big and little cores that AMD presently makes in putting together this design. 

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  • mrdude - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    Anand, any word on when this new x86 core is supposed to hit the market? Is it the same 2016 time frame or afterward?

    AMD has been really light on any sort of details the last couple of years. We really don't even know what to expect in 2015...
    Reply
  • gostan - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    in amd's spacetime, always + 2yrs. So 2016 = ~2018. Reply
  • Elixer - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    If you go by the "old" AMD timeline, then it will ship last quarter of 2018, with a thunk.
    It will still be at least 2 years away though, unless they really got their game together.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    They've reportedly been working on a new core for awhile - basically shortly after Jim Keller was hired back in 2012. This is the first public admission that their Bulldozer heritage is going to be bulldozed over. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    "We really don't even know what to expect in 2015..."

    Yes we do - "new" crappy APUs, a lot of statements about how ARM is TEH FUTURE, and at least one delay on aforementioned crappy APUs.
    Reply
  • Anders CT - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    @The_Assimilator

    It would probably be more correct to say :"ARM is TEH PRESENT"
    Reply
  • TristanSDX - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    "Jim Keller added some details on K12. He referenced AMD's knowledge of doing high frequency designs as well as "extending the range" that ARM is in. Keller also mentioned he told his team to take the best of the big and little cores that AMD presently makes in putting together this design. "
    So it is basically Bulldozer based crap. Well done AMD, do some tweak, rename it as 'new core' and try to sell it again. But clients are not that stupid.
    Reply
  • errorr - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    I read that the other way. I think he is talking about high frequency ARM with a bunch of Frankenstein monster parts of IP from bulldozer for a new x86 design. Reply
  • testbug00 - Monday, May 05, 2014 - link

    wonder which company took the best of a great mobile chip and a high frequency chip to make a chip that DESTROYED their competition in every (I believe it was every) category?

    Hm... Intel. Now, Intel executes far better than AMD has (Although, AMD has been getting better, the improvement has not been huge) but, no reason that AMD could not take BD + cats and get a chip that managed to capture positives of both like the original Core chips did.
    Reply
  • MLSCrow - Monday, June 02, 2014 - link

    TristanSDX - If you take the "best" of the big and little cores, the Bulldozer arch in it's entirety is not something that would make the cut. Reply

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