An enlightening new interview with AMD CTO Mark Papermaster has revealed two of the tech giant’s biggest strategies coming in the near future — which he hopes will level the playing field between AMD and Intel in the CPU market.
Papermaster first discussed how AMD officially plans on introducing ‘hybrid’ CPUs to its consumer product lineup. For the uninitiated, hybrid architecture uses larger cores designed for performance mixed in with smaller efficiency cores. The performance cores handle the main bulk of processing, while the efficiency cores take care of background processes to free up resources. It’s groundbreaking tech, and something that Intel had already introduced in its 12th-Gen chips to great effect.
During his interview with Tom’s Hardware, Papermaster states that one of the keys to future-proofing CPU tech is knowing when to increase the CPU core count and when to rely more on the hybrid model, as different applications depend on different core types to run efficiently. He asserts that core counts aren’t the only way to improve CPU performance, and that AMD must be able to “provide customers with the kind of diversity of computation elements they need.”
He also spoke about AMD using AI technology for the company’s chip design, testing, and verification phases, as well as plans to harness generative AI for chip design in the future. Papermaster first details how pervasive AI is in the company already: “It's already in our PC lineup, with our Ryzen 7040. It's accelerating across our embedded, in our adaptive compute, our former Xilinx product line, and even in GPUs it has been used to interpolate frames and to get a better resolution.”
After that, Papermaster explains how AI is used to optimize the design of AMD’s chips, as it possesses the ability to not only iterate but to learn from each iteration – and then improve its designs. He also states that AI is useful when applied to AMD’s verification suites, helping to reduce the amount of time it takes to find bugs during the development process.
Both promising and dubious news from AMD
This confirmation of AMD’s rumored foray into hybrid architecture is great to hear. The big.LITTLE architecture that Intel introduced is one of the best things to happen to its CPUs, boosting its performance far past anything Team Red was able to offer at the time. So with AMD revealing that it’ll be using hybrid tech for its own chips, the manufacturer will finally be on equal footing with its competition.
And while the hybrid news is entirely great to hear, the AI news could definitely prove to be far more divisive. The AMD CTO stated that the manufacturer already uses AI for GPU development, and now it looks like AMD will be using it more heavily in the CPU design and testing process too.
On one hand, AI is a great tool for handling extremely repetitive workloads with high accuracy and efficiency. But on the other hand, this could eventually lead to an elimination of jobs if AI is expanded to other roles at AMD, something that will no doubt upset a lot of people
And let’s not forget that AI being used on this level within the tech industry is very new, and we’ve already seen it mishandled by a Samsung employee before. So maybe AMD should focus on implementing its hybrid chips first and leave AI development alone for now – at least until it has a better footing in the CPU market.