AMD joins forces with ARM Holdings to battle common rival Intel

June 15, 2012 By Kirk Ladendorf

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and ARM Holdings PLC appear to be teaming up to do battle with their common rival, Intel Corp.

The two companies said they plan to incorporate ARM's TrustZone security technology into AMD microprocessors starting next year. TrustZone is a security environment developed by ARM that supports a variety of programs.

Analysts see the move as a counter to Intel's heavy investment in extending security technology into its processors. Last year, Intel bought McAfee, a leading personal company, for $7.7 billion and said that it intended to incorporate its security technology into its chips.

Intel, the largest and richest company in the , is the dominant supplier of processor chips for the . AMD - which is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., but has most of its operations and about 2,500 employees in Austin - is its much smaller rival.

But ARM, which is based in the United Kingdom, is the dominant source of low-power processor chips that control smartphones. ARM licenses its basic low-power designs to other companies, including ., that make the chips.

TrustZone, which is ARM's established security system, is the dominant for smartphones and tablets. The alliance with AMD would give ARM's technology a presence in personal computers and eventually servers, the workhorse computers that run Internet data centers.

"Security needs to be present in every single device. The challenge that the industry faces is how to make this a reality," said Ian Drew, executive vice president for strategy at ARM. "The aim (of the partnership with AMD) is to make security accessible and consistent for consumers and business users across all computing devices."

Leendert van Doorn, an AMD corporate fellow who has been heavily involved with ARM, said the two companies have been working together since early last year. The idea, he said, was for AMD to partner with and adopt a widely used security standard to be able to make use of the extensive software already developed for ARM chips. It will do that by incorporating a small ARM processing "core" onto future AMD chips. The ARM Cortex A5 core will be used, and its sole function is to run TrustZone software.

The new core will be incorporated into low-power systems chips that AMD intends to introduce next year for low-end laptop computers and tablet devices. AMD expects to extend the security function to all of its personal computer desktop and laptop chips by 2014.

The security partnership between the two companies followed their agreement announced Tuesday to be part of a new software development consortium to find better ways to develop software for chips that include a central processor and a graphics processor on the same piece of silicon. In addition to ARM and AMD, the new group, called the Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation, includes Imagination Technologies, MediaTek Inc. and Texas Instruments, which are all heavily involved in the cellphone market.

The companies will work together to find better ways to write software for new complex hybrid chips, which are expected to be widely used in computers and smartphones.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead, with Moor Insights & Strategy, said the technology and security announcements represent some of the biggest technical announcements by AMD in years.

The security announcement, Moorhead said, is "a judo move by AMD because they can leverage all the third-party software programs that work with the ARM TrustZone."

Analyst Nathan Brookwood with Insight 64 said the alliance of AMD and makes sense because together they can attract more interest from more independent software companies to create programs that run on their chips.

Explore further: AMD's Phenom II Takes On Intel's Core 2 Processors


Related Stories

AMD's Phenom II Takes On Intel's Core 2 Processors

February 9, 2009

( -- AMD has added two new Phenom II desktop chips to their product line. The Phenom II Dragon line desktop processors use AMD's new 45-nanometer technology and consists both of a triple-core (X3) and quad-core ...

AMD sees better profit margins in 2011

November 9, 2010

(AP) -- Advanced Micro Devices is raising its profit forecast as the company readies the rollout of an ambitious new line of computer processors.

AMD cutting 1,400 workers in first move by new CEO

November 3, 2011

(AP) -- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is cutting some 1,400 workers as a weak computer market and manufacturing delays have hurt the world's second-biggest maker of microprocessors for PCs.

Motorola pledges to use Intel chips in smartphones

January 11, 2012

Motorola Mobility and Lenovo on Tuesday said they will use Intel processors in smartphones and other devices, giving the chipmaker its first entry into a market it has long coveted.

Microsoft developing Windows for phone chips

January 5, 2011

Microsoft Corp. confirmed Wednesday that it is developing a version of its main Windows operating system that will run on cell phone chips, providing an alternative for the first time to the chips based on Intel technology.

Recommended for you

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jun 15, 2012
Heterogeneous computing is going no where fast. Used primarily on supercomputers, it delivers as a practical matter only a fraction of the peek theoretical speeds possible.

This has largely been the result of the need for a control CPU to monitor the results of computations and perform code branches that the graphic cards being used for the numerical computations have not been able to perform themselves.

AMD's initiative is not a threat to Intel. But it is a threat to Nvidia.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.