AMD prepares an alternative to the Apple M1 SoC with ARM CPU and integrated DRAM memory

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SoC Apple M1

The launch of the Apple M1 SoC has been one of the most important surprises of 2020. We already knew that the apple company had been working for some time to start its transition to ARM architecture, a complicated movement that has finally begun, and that has a very clear objective: to make everything “stay at home”.

Tim Cook has it clear, wants all the Apple product ecosystem to use its own hardware, a goal that has already been achieved almost entirely with its mobile devices, and which it hopes to fulfill with its Mac series in the medium and long term. The Apple M1 SoC is the first step in that direction, and for now the first performance tests confirm that it was a successful move.

According to new information, the arrival of the Apple M1 SoC encouraged AMD to bring back a project that was born in 2016 hand in hand with Jim Keller, and we knew how «K12 FFX». This project was to be a chip based on the 64-bit ARM v8 architecture at the CPU level, and equipped with a custom Radeon GPU adapted to offer a good balance in terms of performance and consumption.

Combine high-performance ARM cores with a next-generation Radeon GPU based on RDNA 2 architecture could be a winning bet, and would end up marking an important turning point in the sector, especially if acceptable levels of consumption and thermal efficiency are maintained, that is, low energy demand and low working temperatures.

FK12 FFX: AMD’s alternative to the Apple M1 SoC

This is how this interesting chip from the Sunnyvale company is defined, for now. It is important to bear in mind that we are talking about a project that was in development four years agos, and therefore could have undergone various changes, but your base idea would not have been affected. This means that the concept of integrating a 64-bit ARM CPU and a Radeon GPU to create a powerful SoC with a very content consumption is maintained.

I know what you are thinking, that the Apple M1 SoC is much more than a CPU and a GPU sharing package, and yes, you are right, since integrates other elements such as DRAM memory. The source of the news has also wanted to clarify this issue, and ensures that this AMD alternative would have two versions: one that would also come with a certain amount of RAM that would work in a unified way, and another version that would lack such memory.

AMD prepares an alternative to the Apple M1 SoC with ARM CPU and integrated DRAM memory 29

Very interesting, no doubt, not only because it confirms that Apple has taken the right path with its new SoC, but also because a chip of this type will allow the creation of a new generation of laptops and convertibles, would drive the development of ARM-x86 emulation and would also serve to motivate Microsoft to continue enhancing and improving Windows 10 on ARM.

During the last weeks we have been seeing numerous patents that confirm that AMD wants to go beyond the classic MCM CPU design. The company has several fronts open with very interesting ideas, among which we can highlight, for example, the concept of a x86 CPU with a big.LITTLE structure, a design that is a classic in the mobile sector, and that also uses the Apple SoC M1.

The future of processors, and of SoCs in general, looks very interesting. I’m convinced that in the coming years we will end up seeing a commitment to specialization that will start from that big.LITTLE base that we all know, and that will bring the configurations of several blocks of nuclei to the PC.

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