AMD to introduce 64-bit ARM-based Opteron processors in 2014

“Seattle” will be the first chip from AMD to use ARMv8.

AMD Opteron Logo  AMD to introduce 64 bit ARM based Opteron processors in 2014

AMD will launch an ARM-based server processor next year, in what the company is calling the biggest disruption to the market since the launch of its original 64-bit Opteron x86 processor in 2003.

AMD’s Seattle processor, launching in 2014, will be based on the ARMv8 architecture and will be available in four or eight core editions supporting up to 128 GB of ECC memory. AMD says that Seattle will integrate 10GB/sec of Ethernet connectivity and support its new “Freedom Fabric” protocol.

In a blog post announcing the new chip AMD’s Lawrence Latif said that Seattle will launch with a large supporting ecosystem of software.

AMD’s participation in software projects is well documented, being a gold member of the Linux Foundation, the organization that manages the development of the Linux kernel, and a group member of Linaro. AMD is a gold sponsor of the Apache Foundation, which oversees projects such as Hadoop, HTTP Server and Samba among many others, and the company’s engineers are contributors to the OpenJDK project. This is just a small selection of the work AMD is taking part in, and these projects in particular highlight how important AMD feels that open source software is to the data center, and in particular micro servers, that make use of ARM-based processors.

And running ARM-based processors doesn’t mean giving up on the flexibility of virtual machines, with KVM already ported to the ARMv8 architecture. Another popular hypervisor, Xen, is already available for 32-bit ARM architectures with a 64-bit port planned, ensuring that two popular and highly capable hypervisors will be available.

The Linux kernel has supported 64-bit ARMv8 architecture since Linux 3.7, and a number of popular Linux distributions have already signaled their support for the architecture including Canonical’s Ubuntu and the Red Hat sponsored Fedora distribution. In fact there is a downloadable, bootable Ubuntu distribution available in anticipation for ARMv8-based processors.

It’s not just operating systems and applications that are available. Developer tools such as the extremely popular open source GCC compiler and the vital GNU C Library (Glibc) have already been ported to the ARMv8 architecture and are available for download. With GCC and Glibc good to go, a solid foundation for developers to target the ARMv8 architecture is forming.

Having AMD push out ARM in 2014 will certainly make for an interesting market environment. Hopefully AMD will fill announce more details in January at CES.

 

 

 

Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.