By Don Sambandaraksa | Jun 19, 2012
AMD’s Fusion has been a long time coming. I first wrote about Fusion back in 2005 when he whose name cannot be said (former President and CEO Hector Ruiz) was speaking in Singapore of his roadmap of merging CPUs with GPUs and other application specific chips on the same die.
The idea back then was to first take an AMD CPU core and then for the likes of ATI and NVidia to offer their GPUs as in, first on the same package but with different silicon, then on the same die but with clearly different components and eventually merged, fabbed onto the same CPU seamlessly, sharing memory and other components.
Things did not quite go as smoothly as planned. He whose name cannot be said (apparently that is actually what AMD staff say when they refer to their former CEO these days) left alongside accusations of insider trading and the flexibility promised back then never quite happened in the timeframe he envisioned. Fusion did happen eventually in 2011 but only after AMD bought ATI and had to re-work both designs thoroughly to get them to work with wildly differing memory demands from the compute and graphics sides.
Today, Ruiz’s vision has taken another step forward with the announcement that AMD will soon be fabbing an ARM core onto the same silicon. But visions of high performance multi-core ARM chips alongside AMD Radeon cores on a new generation of tablets, or for an AMD-led ARM attack on the data centre, were quickly dashed.
AMD said that the ARM core, a Cortex A5 design, to be crafted onto the new generation of Fusion and Opteron chips was not for compute, but rather to run Trust Zone security. In essence, letting the ARM CPU ensure only trusted, signed components are loaded and run throughout the system while freeing the CPU up for real computational tasks. Security running seperately and on a different architecture at that, should make for more secure computing.
It has been reported that the first CPU with an ARM core will be the Fusion Kabini chip for the Brazos 2.0 platform due out sometime in 2013.