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AMD reveals roadmap for ARM and x86 SoCs

Sep 9, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 11,971 views

AMD unveiled an “ambidextrous” embedded roadmap based on a series of new system-on-chip (SoC) and accelerated processing unit (APU) products built from both ARM and x86 CPU cores. Planned for launch in 2014 are an ARM Cortex A57-based “Hierofalcon” SoC, a “Bald Eagle” APU using a new “Streamroller” x86 CPU, a multi-core x86 “Steppe Eagle” APU, and an “Adelaar” discrete Embedded Radion GPU.

Interestingly, AMD chose to launch its new embedded strategy and 2014 roadmap on the first day of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Both companies have been scrambling to adapt to the shifting winds of the “post-PC” era, with PC sales lagging and tablet and smartphone sales skyrocketing. Each has come out with x86-based system-on-chips, and Intel recently was able to claim several successes in new smartphone and tablet device releases. But whereas Intel divested itself of its ARM-based XScale chip business several years back, AMD announced last year that it planned to expand into ARM territory.

“The embedded systems market is vast and forms the underpinning for the Surround Computing era,” states AMD in its announcement of the new strategy. “This market is comprised of different segments of which intelligent embedded devices — those enabled with high-performance microprocessors, IP connectivity, and high level operating systems — are quickly becoming the most significant.”


Embedded CPU architecture market share
(click image to enlarge; source: VDC Research)


AMD cites VDC Research data indicating that the market for CPUs in both “traditional and intelligent embedded systems” will grow by 36 percent, from about 330 million units in 2013 to greater than 450 million units by 2016, with x86 and ARM architectures accounting for 82 percent of the total.

AMD’s “ambidextrous” roadmap

In its announcement today, AMD said it would be introducing four new processor lines in 2014:

  • “Hierofalcon” — an ARM Cortex-A57-based SoC family
  • “Bald Eagle” — APU and CPU SoC offerings incorporating a new “Steamroller” x86 CPU architecture
  • “Steppe Eagle” — enhancements to the Embedded G-Series SoC, featuring improved performance and reduced power consumption
  • “Adelaar” — the first discrete GPU based on AMD’s new “Graphics Core Next” architecture for embedded systems

AMD describes these new processor families as follows:

  • “Hierofalcon” CPU SoC — the first 64-bit ARM-based platform from AMD targeting embedded data center applications, communications infrastructure, and industrial solutions. It will include up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 CPUs expected to run up to 2.0GHz and provides high performance memory with two 64-bit DDR3/4 channels with error correction code (ECC) for high reliability applications. The highly-integrated SoC includes 10Gb KR Ethernet and PCI-Express Gen 3 for high-speed network connectivity, making it ideal for control plane applications. The “Hierofalcon” series also provides enhanced security with support for ARM TrustZone technology and a dedicated cryptographic security co-processor, aligning to the increased need for networked, secure systems. “Hierofalcon” is expected to be sampling in the second quarter of 2014 with production in the second half of the year.
  • “Bald Eagle” APU/CPU — The next generation high-performance x86-based embedded processor available as both an APU and CPU featuring up to four new “Steamroller” CPU cores within a 35W TDP. The APU products will provide the new power optimized AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next GPU architecture, and HSA enhancements for high-performance embedded applications, making it a superior solution for next generation digital signage and embedded digital gaming. The “Bald Eagle” family will also introduce new power management features, such as configurable TDP, allowing engineers more design flexibility. “Bald Eagle” is expected to be available in the first half of 2014.
  • “Steppe Eagle” APU SOC — Further extends the performance and low-power range of the current AMD Embedded G-Series APU SOC platform with an enhanced “Jaguar” CPU core architecture and AMD Graphics Core Next GPU architecture that include new features for increased CPU and GPU frequency. Designed for low-power embedded applications, “Steppe Eagle” is designed to offer increased performance-per-watt both at a lower TDP than the current AMD Embedded G-Series APU SOC, as well as extending the high-end performance above 2GHz. “Steppe Eagle” also provides embedded design engineers the flexibility to leverage the current AMD Embedded G-Series APU SOC board design and software stack for a variety of applications with footprint compatibility. “Steppe Eagle” is expected to be available in the first half of 2014.
  • “Adelaar” discrete GPU — The next-generation discrete AMD Embedded Radeon GPU based on Graphics Core Next architecture specifically designed for embedded applications. “Adelaar” comes as a multi-chip-module (MCM) with pre-qualified and integrated 2GB of graphics memory. The “Adelaar” GPU family will deliver rich 3D graphics, multi-display support and support for DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.2 and both Windows and Linux. “Adelaar” is expected to be available in the first half of 2014 with seven years of planned supply availability as an MCM, mobile PCI express module (MXM) and standard PC graphics card2.

AMD’s slide deck outlining the company’s new x86+ARM embedded processor strategy appears below. Click the images to view larger versions.

AMD Embedded Processor Roadmap presentation — Sep. 9, 2013
(click images to enlarge)


AMD says it’s “actively pursuing” the intelligent embedded device market in conjunction with a “broad ecosystem” of software and hardware partners, and will be supporting multiple operating systems including Windows and Linux. Key market segments targeted include: industrial control and automation, digital gaming, communication infrastructure, “visual embedded,” digital signage, thin clients, medical imaging, automotive infotainment, internet-enabled set-top boxes and TVs, printing/imaging, digital surveillance, storage, and military/aerospace.

“There are different customer needs in different segments of this market, from low-power to high-performance, Linux to Windows, and x86 to ARM,” commented Arun Iyengar, VP and general manager of the AMD Embedded Solutions division.

“AMD has quickly embraced the need to deliver the right SoC for the right task in one of the industry’s most comprehensive product portfolios for the embedded community,” added Tom Cronk, GM and EVP of ARM Ltd’s processor division.

(advertise here)

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One response to “AMD reveals roadmap for ARM and x86 SoCs”

  1. Bill Giovino says:

    Looks interesting. But in embedded, “if you build it they will come” does not work because newcomers to embedded often struggle with the logistics of the business. Also, the support for embedded is massive because of the sheer number of dissimilar applications.

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