Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge

6/27/2022 5:31:00 PM

Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge

Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge

What will it take to loosen the x86 giant's edge stranglehold?

Have AMD's embedded processors lost their edge? It's not like there aren't any AMD-based edge appliances – they do exist.sold at exorbitant prices right now ).(opens in new tab) : Get into the game ahead of the rest This begs the question.(opens in new tab) spoke to Sam Naffziger, Senior VP, Corporate Fellow and Product Technology Architect at AMD, about the next-gen (presumably RX 7000) GPUs on topics which included power consumption.

AMD has an entire page on its site dedicated to its partners' edge appliances.But a close inspection reveals that most of these systems are either running on consumer-grade Ryzen processors or are so woefully outdated that anyone in their right mind – and with a big enough wallet – would opt for Intel's Xeon-D processors.The A380 is the world’s largest passenger aircraft, developed by Airbus to challenge the iconic Boeing 747 and produced from 2007 to 2021.AMD hasn't updated its Epyc Embedded family of processors in nearly four years.That alone is undeniable evidence that many (but not all) games benefit from huge amounts of L3 cache.The Epyc 3251 processors powering both of Supermicro's AMD-based edge appliances are based on an ageing 14nm manufacturing process.If you’ve ever flown with Emirates or Quantas, there’s a good chance you’ve sat aboard an A380.The chipmaker's Ryzen Embedded processor line, which targets IoT and low-power edge applications, has had an update more recently – last week in fact.It’s just that they’ll have to push them a lot higher than we will.

But don't get too excited.As a helpful reader flagged up to us, this could potentially land Intel in hot water over marketing the new GPUs using the A380 name.Of course, the ‘fastest gaming CPU’ is largely an exercise in marketing from both companies.The company's newly minted R2000-series processors are based on the same architecture as AMD's Epyc Embedded chips, but use a 12nm manufacturing process instead.The edge and IoT is probably a relatively low volume market for AMD, and validation for these environments takes time and can be costly – but at this point why bother? It looks very much like AMD just had a bunch of 2000-series Ryzen processor dies sitting around, so why not deploy them? At a time when supply chain constraints mean customers will take whatever they can get their hands on, it's not a bad idea.(Image credit: Airbus) Does Airbus have a lawsuit? Naturally, I spoke to Intel about this.By comparison, Intel's Xeon-D 1700 and 2700-series processors, announced in February, offer up to 20 cores and share the same 10nm manufacturing process and architecture as its more powerful Ice Lake Xeon Scalable processors from 2021.A system running games at 4K with all the details turned up isn’t going to tax the CPU anywhere near as much as a gamer chasing 360fps in CS:GO with an RTX 3090.In AMD's defense, its chips are cheaper – at least on paper.To understand why Intel feels that it’s safe, though, we’re going to need a brief primer on trademark law.

The Epyc Embedded 3251 launched at an MSRP of around $300, while Intel's octacore D-1732TE has a recommended price of $663, according to the chipmaker's documentation.But it's hard to draw a value comparison without without pitting them against each other in real-world testing.The key thing it boils down to is the ‘likelihood of confusion’ - usually, for a trademark lawsuit to succeed, a judge has to rule that there is a non-zero chance that a consumer could get confused between two non-generic products based on the name.Can they overclock? Can stacked 5nm chiplets be kept cool? What of Intel’s models? Will heat and power consumption concerns hold them back? Will they see higher clocks across the entire range? (opens in new tab) here at PC Gamer.That's beyond the scope this piece.But suffice to say, our money would be on Intel, at least in this arena.Additionally, Airbus actually uses some Intel processor hardware in its aircraft, so ticking off Intel seems like it would be a bad idea.Arm's efficiency edge But enough about AMD.There are a lot of questions to be answered.

What about Arm? Where are the Arm edge appliances? Let's get something out of the way: Arm will absolutely dominate far-edge compute applications, and not even by a little bit.Intel is obviously confident; I’d imagine that its legal team wouldn’t have greenlit the name if they were concerned, since the A380 plane isn’t exactly a secret.You only need to look at the performance offered by Apple's M-series processors to see why.These chips manage desktop-class performance at a fraction of the power required by their x86 contemporaries.One key element here is that Intel hasn’t attempted to trademark A380 or any other Arc GPU designation, due to an entirely different legal precedent at play here that could work in Intel’s favor - and to delve into that, we have to go all the way back to a hotel in Sunnyvale, California, in the year 1990.With that said, any application of Arm processors outside of consumer electronics and IoT is a weird subject right now.There is a whole class of industrial IoT products running on what is essentially a Raspberry Pi.As the decade drew to a close, it looked as if Intel was winning; for years, AMD had been able to produce processors that had been designed by Intel thanks to a ‘second-source’ arrangement prompted by high demand for microprocessors in new computers.

But the list of Arm chips that can compete head on with Intel or AMD is much shorter.Ampere, a front runner in the effort to bring Arm to the datacenter, has seen early success in cloud and near-edge applications.AMD had been making big money, but losing the ability to sell the 80386 processor was a huge blow.Cloudflare out AMD's second-gen Epyc processors in favor of Ampere's Altra chips in its edge datacenters last year.The DNS giant, best known for periodically breaking the internet, claims the chips delivered 57 percent better performance per watt than AMD.It defended the trademark and the associated technology zealously, engaging in lawsuits with AMD to prevent it from continuing to utilize the microarchitecture that powered the 386.Another Arm vendor with its eyes on the edge is Nvidia.

At Computex, the chipmaker opened its Jetson AGX Orin platform – which features an Ampere-series GPU (not to be confused with the aforementioned chipmaker of the same name) and 12 Arm Cortex-A78AE – to system integrators for edge and embedded AI use cases.Late in 1990, an AMD marketing official from Texas by the name of Mike Webb visited Sunnyvale, where AMD’s headquarters were located.More than 30 vendors have said they plan to launch products based on the 60W single-board computer.And for customers that need to do a lot of inferencing at the edge on a limited power budget, it wouldn't be surprising to see appliances in this vein become the de facto standard.When an express package was delivered to the hotel for AMD’s Mike Webb after both men had checked out, the hotel unknowingly forwarded it to the wrong Mr Webb.Intel's lead will be short lived So, to answer the question, where are all the AMD and Arm edge appliances? Well, they do exist and some of them are quite promising.But for the moment, there's a pretty wide gulf at the edge's two extremes.Intel’s Mike Webb turned the contents over to Intel’s legal team, who took one look at the AM386 branding, sealed the package without reading another word, and immediately filed a lawsuit against AMD for infringing the ‘386’ trademark.

At the near edge, it's arguably a toss up between the major chipmakers.Here, application requirements are going to have a bigger impact on which wins out.This set a troublesome precedent for Intel; the manufacturer was unable to secure trademarks for the planned 486 and 586 chips, and AMD went on to release the AM386 and establish itself as a serious competitor to Team Blue in the CPU market.Meanwhile, at the farthest reaches of the edge, verging on IoT territory, the battle is far from settled.In between these two extremes, Intel has been surprisingly successful at carving out a niche with its Xeon-D processors.Intel’s next move was to establish the Pentium brand, while the numbers became a mere sub-identifier of the chip.For the discerning OEM looking to satisfy the lowest common denominator, Intel sure looks like the safe bet, and this is reflected in the sheer number of Xeon-based edge appliances on the market today.

How long Intel can maintain this lead remains to be seen.This legal precedent extends to GPUs too, hence why ‘A380’ is not an Intel trademark and will never become one; it’s just a designation, while ‘Intel Arc’ is the actual registered trademark.Arm's core architecture, unveiled last year, specifically targets edge applications.As more chipmakers embrace these core designs, we'll see a wave of low-power Arm appliances begin chipping away at Intel's edge stronghold.Within the technology field, trademarking a short string of letters and numbers is basically impossible now, so it stands to reason that Intel can safely use whatever designation it wants without fear of legal retribution.Meanwhile, we could soon see a refresh to AMD's Epyc Embedded processor line.At AMD's earlier this month, the company teased a new Epyc processor family, called Siena, that it says is optimized for"intelligent edge and communications deployments.Christian Guyton Editor, Computing Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor.

" That sounds an awful lot like a Xeon-D competitor.® Share.He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

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