bit-tech.net

AMD announces the HSA Foundation

AMD announces the HSA Foundation

The newly-formed HSA Foundation has an AMD fellow at the helm but plenty of ARM fans in its ranks.

AMD's seemingly bizarre decision to ditch the Fusion branding in favour of the tongue-twisting Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) moniker, announced back in January, finally has an explanation: AMD isn't going to be the only HSA house around.

AMD's Fusion project was officially launched in June 2011 as an attempt to meld the capabilities of a computer's central processor and graphics processor into a single, cohesive whole. Although its most famous output, the Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) family of chips, doesn't quite reach that lofty goal, the company has outlined plans which will allow the two traditionally disparate components to share resources in a way which could, an AMD-funded study has shown, boost overall system performance by up to 20 per cent.

The reason for the shift away from the easily-remembered Fusion name to the hard-to-spell Heterogeneous Systems Architecture three-letter acronym seemed odd, but an announcement made by AMD at its Fusion Developer Summit late last night has brought clarity to the situation: HSA is to be an industry-wide effort, not just an AMD research and development exercise.

Accordingly, AMD announced the formation of the HSA Foundation, a non-profit consortium of chip makers looking to boost performance of their parts with heterogeneous processing technology. Naturally, Intel isn't among its list of members - but British low-power chip giant ARM, mobile graphics giant Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, and ARM licensee Texas Instruments are, along with AMD itself.

'HSA moves the industry beyond the constraints of the legacy system architecture of the past 25-plus years that is now stifling software innovations,' claimed Phil Rogers, AMD corporate fellow and president of the HSA Foundation, of the group's aims. 'By aiming HSA squarely at the needs of the software developer, we have designed a common hardware platform for high performance, energy efficient solutions. HSA is unlocking a new realm of possibilities across PCs, smartphones, tablets and ultrathin notebooks, as well as the innovative supercomputers and cloud services that define the modern computing experience.'

AMD has claimed that the HSA Foundation is open to all - including, if it should so desire, long-time rival Intel - stating that it 'welcomes forward-thinking semiconductor companies, platform and OS vendors, device manufacturers, independent software vendors, academia and open source developers' into its ranks.

'We are all demanding more from the technology that connects us to our digital worlds: graphical interfaces are critical to the user experience but can have a power impact. With open standards, developers can now provide outstanding graphics without compromising power-efficiency,' claimed Jem Davies, vice president of technology at ARM's media processor division, of its membership in the Foundation. 'ARM welcomes the formation of the HSA Foundation and is pleased to be one of the founding members. ARM's extensive experience with heterogeneous systems brings a unique leadership perspective to developing the right compute processor for the right tasks based on the latest ARM technology, such as ARM Mali GPUs and Cortex processors.'

Although the Foundation has made much of its support for any and all companies and individuals looking to develop HSA-based products, membership comes at a cost. The smallest membership bracket, that of Associate, costs $1,000 a year, while companies wanting early access to specifications will be expected to pay $10,000 a year for the privilege.

Mid-sized companies working in the field of development tools, including creators of simulators, compilers, debuggers and libraries, and having a revenue of under $25 million a year get access to the Supporter level at $15,000 a year. The Promoter bracket is for companies involved in other markets, including consumer-oriented product development, and costs a whopping $75,000 a year. The Founder level, meanwhile, costs $125,000 a year for a place on the board and the ability to have control over the ratification of final specifications - but is available only via invitation from the existing board members.

The HSA Foundation's support for academia is also welcomed, but again not cost-free: academics wishing to get involved in the Foundation's efforts will be welcomed into the fold by invitation only, and then asked to shell out $5,000 a year for the privilege.

Despite some fairly hefty membership fees, the HSA Foundation has already attracted an impressive array of talent - but AMD's heavy involvement could turn some companies off the project. Intel, in particular, is unlikely to want to have anything to do with the Foundation while an AMD fellow is its president, and Nvidia - creator of the hugely popular Tegra family of ARM-based system-on-chip designs - is likely to be equally cagey about working so closely with its long-time rival in the graphics market.

AMD's involvement in the project also suggests a closer partnership with ARM than has previously been considered; coupled with comments made by AMD chief technology officer Mark Papermaster back in February, in which he refused to rule out the possibility of an AMD ARM-based processor, the chances of AMD taking on an ARM architecture licence look a lot brighter.

More details about the HSA Foundation are available at the official website.

11 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
kosch 13th June 2012, 13:18 Quote
I wish they would just bloody stick to one thing!
MrJay 13th June 2012, 13:48 Quote
I'm glad they are exploring new things, especially in this very competitive market. Its pretty much their only option to keep changing the game.
kosch 13th June 2012, 13:54 Quote
I meant the naming convention rather than the market space just to be clear!
Sheiken 13th June 2012, 14:20 Quote
This is why I am such a huge AMD fanboy!
Gareth Halfacree 13th June 2012, 14:32 Quote
Well, I expected to be proved right - but not this quickly: AMD announces that its 2013 APUs will include an ARM Cortex-A5 processing core.
Sheiken 13th June 2012, 15:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Well, I expected to be proved right - but not this quickly: AMD announces that its 2013 APUs will include an ARM Cortex-A5 processing core.

Very interesting. I am excited to see what this means in practice.
schmidtbag 13th June 2012, 17:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Well, I expected to be proved right - but not this quickly: AMD announces that its 2013 APUs will include an ARM Cortex-A5 processing core.

Well, when you say "a" ARM core, that could also mean there are other cores that are x86 based. What would be amazing to me is if AMD managed to create a middle-ground CPU that could run ARM, x86, and x86-64 tasks all in one. AMD got x86-64 popular, it wouldn't surprise me if they did x86-64-ARM too. The interesting idea with this is the ARM core could run low-power and background processes, essentially shutting off the x86 based cores, and when anything demanding comes up, it switches to the x86 cores. Much like nvidia's optimus.


Anyways, its a shame intel has to be so greedy because if they came up with this idea and was as open-armed (no pun intended, seriously) to other companies as AMD, then maybe intel could actually get away with one of their lawsuits of anticompetition. i just don't understand the motive of intel and MS - they have so much potential to be companies that people can be proud of supporting while still maintaining the most success, but instead they're complete assholes and rub their success in everyone's faces. IBM is a huge and successful company but they're almost polar opposites of intel and MS.
fdbh96 13th June 2012, 19:44 Quote
[QUOTE=schmidtbag]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree

Anyways, its a shame intel has to be so greedy because if they came up with this idea and was as open-armed (no pun intended, seriously) to other companies as AMD, then maybe intel could actually get away with one of their lawsuits of anticompetition. i just don't understand the motive of intel and MS - they have so much potential to be companies that people can be proud of supporting while still maintaining the most success, but instead they're complete assholes and rub their success in everyone's faces. IBM is a huge and successful company but they're almost polar opposites of intel and MS.

Intel isn't being greedy as such, it just doesn't want to work with AMD (its only major rival in the desktop place anyway), which is fair enough. It''l hardly want to get AMD a better product as its processors are better than theirs at the moment.
schmidtbag 13th June 2012, 20:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fdbh96
Intel isn't being greedy as such, it just doesn't want to work with AMD (its only major rival in the desktop place anyway), which is fair enough. It''l hardly want to get AMD a better product as its processors are better than theirs at the moment.

I'll admit intel does a lot for the good of others whether they profit or not, and every once in a while they'll team up with a company instead of buying it out (usually if the company has something they want/need but don't feel like expanding their business into). But there's been plenty of proof of anticompetition, and being anticompetitive can only be deduced to greed. I don't blame intel for not wanting to join with the HSA foundation, but what I'm saying is they could have easily done something like this themselves a while ago.

I'd like to point out AMD isn't the only company intel doesn't get along with. They're not too fond of nvidia either. However, I'd say there are more companies that don't get along with intel than the other way around. Unlike MS, intel doesn't really have that many rivals, for a few reasons. They can usually compete with anyone out there. If they can't compete, they buy out the company. If they can't buy out the company due to antitrust issues (lets face it, money isn't the problem), they do what they can to make the other company look worse, or they limit the competitors' options in some manner. When they're not allowed to do any of that, they advertise and start sponsoring things.
MSHunter 13th June 2012, 21:02 Quote
Intel vs Nvidia has a long history. for a while they where working together, back before Intel had GPU parts in their CPUs. Intel gained all their GPU knowledge from this partnership then they brought out the iCore CPUs and refused to let Nvida produce motherboards for Intel iCore CPUs.......

Because Nvidia's Motherboard license did not include CPUs with integrated Clock generators. (which didn't exist before iCore)

Hence Intel sued Nvidia when Nvidia tried to produce motherboards for iCore CPU's.
fluxtatic 14th June 2012, 09:14 Quote
Apparently, the ARM core is to be used as a competitor to Intel's TXT. That is, a 'Secure World' environment that is not user-accessible. Segregated parts of RAM and storage could, for example, hold crypto keys to be processed by the ARM core, which then hands the return off to the x86 cores. Doing this can be used to keep secure things out of userspace entirely. At least, until it gets cracked.

What's very interesting is AMD plans to have it across their range within the next year or two. Intel's TXT and vPRO are typically only unlocked in the high-end platforms, and are aimed at secure enterprise environments.

But, give devs access to that core, too - let me sleep my PC, while the ARM core remains active and runs a BT client, for example. Something similar to the Tegra 3 processor - 1 small, low power core for very light tasks, but hand it off to the monster 4 or 6 core beast when I start up a game or the like. Of course, the OS won't be ready for such a thing until Windows 10 if I'm lucky, but I like to dream.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums