Advanced Micro Devices has shown a much greater willingness to use ARM technology in its processors, even if it still keeps x86 architecture as the primary one. Recent rumors say that a semi-custom APU with both techs is in the works.
Normally, AMD dictates what a computer can do, since it builds the chips and everyone else on the hardware market has to accommodate for it. This tactic is not that different from Intel's.
However, while this works well enough on the PC market, it doesn't quite fit the modus operandi of game console makers. Game consoles can't be customized after acquisition.
AMD recently hinted at a new video game console coming, one that will use a new accelerated processing unit.
This came as something of a surprise, but in the end it made sense. Having created a modular APU design called Jaguar, it was able to tailor the chip to the precise needs of the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft's Xbox One, and the Nintendo Wii U.
It only makes sense that its technology would be used in the devices of the future. Especially since Intel has shown no inclination to really challenge it here.
While Intel has been developing new chips of its own, its focus lies in 2-in-1 devices and the Internet of Things at the moment.
Back to AMD, though, the company's chief financial officer recently offered some comments in which he hinted towards the approach of a new gaming device.
This device would use the new semi-custom design announced back in October, the so-called Zen architecture. Officially made for desktops, the platform will apparently be adjusted for use in game consoles as well.
There will be two Zen APUs, all of which set to last for around three years and provide $1 billion / €700 million in revenues starting in 2016.
The Zen should integrated Radeon graphics and one of them could have the CPU cores based on ARM architecture instead of x86.
We can definitely see AMD's x86-based Zen APU powering the Sony PlayStation 5 or some such, while the ARM-powered chip is used in the next Nintendo Wii. Gaming-grade tablets on par with NVIDIA Shield could be part of the plan as well (the ARM ones would be in play here as well).
Since one Zen will be “beyond gaming,” we are quite sure that it will power desktop PCs as well. Perhaps with GPUs truly on par with, say, current-generation add-in Radeon R7 boards.