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Will AMD Get Back Into Arm Server Chips?

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There was a bit of a kerfuffle this week when it looked like AMD was changing its position a little bit on whether or not it would get back into designing
and selling server chips based on the Arm architecture.

The funny thing is that the world has changed around AMD, and a lot of it for the good, as its Epyc X86 server processors have attained around ten percent market share (by shipments), but its position on Arm servers has not really changed. AMD's top brass has said all along that if customers wanted Arm chips, it would make them.

Well, maybe AMD's position, internally, has changed just a little now that the server market has changed so much since the summer of 2015 when AMD stopped its "SkyBridge" X86-Arm shared socket effort, launched in 2014 with much fanfare. Prior to that announcement, AMD's Opteron Arm server chips based on its homegrown "K12" core were expected in 2016 and were pushed out to 2017, and they were SoCs that combined Arm cores and GPUs, much as the "Seattle" Opteron A110 was. Seattle fizzled because it was too underpowered to do anything useful in the datacenter. So AMD started shutting things down, killing off SeaMicro microservers and its interconnect, killing off Arm server chips, so it could just hunker down on the Epyc server CPU. Because, frankly, the Arm server chip demand never materialized.

Maybe it never will in the ways we thought it might. But as we pointed out as this crazy year began, hope springs eternal for Arm server chips.

For good reason, in this case. Amazon Web Services is making and using its own Graviton Arm server chips and Ampere Computing is getting traction with its Altra line at Microsoft, Oracle, Tencent, and Baidu. That is five of the Super 8 that we know about, and those eight hyperscalers and cloud builders comprise around 50 percent of shipments and 40 percent of revenues in the server racket. And maybe AMD is having some thought about that Neoverse roadmap from Arm Holdings, which looks pretty impressive if anyone will actually implement it. Nvidia is in the game with its "Grace" Arm CPU, aimed at HPC and AI workloads and is actually trying to buy Arm…
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