AMD has been moving for quite a while in the direction of “Fusion” chips or heterogeneous computing, and of course ARM has been even father ahead in this than both AMD and Intel with their “System on a Chip” designs. So then it makes some sense for AMD and ARM to join against their common rival, Intel, and establish a standards body that can help developers write the same code for both AMD and ARM chips.
But the HSA foundation is meant to do much more than just shorten the gap between AMD’s and ARM’s architectures. It wants to increase the performance of parallel computing, whether it’s superscalar chips with many cores, GPU’s, or other kind of specialized accelerators. It’s meant to make coding easier for devices from smartphones, to PC’s, to servers and supercomputers a lot easier, while also making parallel computing as effective as possible.
- Client and low power: HSA makes for highly interactive computing where there is a stream of sensor data being used to make decisions and either filter, manipulate or find things – a tremendous benefit to video and image processing, photo manipulation, compression, augmented reality, and more.
- Server: HSA makes cloud applications such as media servers, data and video analytics, HPC applications, and streamed gaming, with a greater ease of programming and better performance per watt – all resulting in a lower TCO.
- Mobile: As power and form factor are critical, HSA will help smartphones and tablets advance as mobile computing platforms, This is where the demand is for more computing power for interactive applications, visualizations and graphics, all with improved battery life. Standards based on HSA will help application developers innovate with the right platform capabilities.
- Embedded: HSA delivers with easier programmability, where power and form factors are critical.
AMD and ARM have been working on this for at least a year, but we might not see the results of this alliance for quite a while. The other partners in this alliance are: Texas Instruments, Mediatek, Imagination, and even Samsung (although AMD’s blog mentions them, but the HSA site strangely doesn’t).
It’s hard to say what all of this means for Android right now, but the alliance from ARM and ARM chip makers, and AMD can only be a good thing. It should help Android become more efficient with multi-core processors, GPU computing, and parallel programming in general.