AMD's new patent is an awkward copy of Intel's Lakefield architecture

mongeese

Posts: 411   +63
Staff member
Through the looking glass: A new patent filed by AMD suggests they’re considering following Intel and Arm down the hybrid computing path. But amusingly, the rather generic patent describes a very familiar product…

Hybrid computing is when one processing device uses two (or more) different architectures optimized for different purposes. In this case, AMD wants to create a more power-efficient laptop CPU/APU without sacrificing features. To do so they’re using a “high-feature processor” that does everything quickly and a “low-feature processor” that does a small number of things very efficiently, all within a single CPU/APU.

The patent engages mostly with the basics of hybrid computing: “when the high-feature processor is being underutilized, the heterogeneous processor system transitions to a lower-power mode by switching execution of a thread to the low-feature processor. This switch of execution includes migrating data…” and subsequently, “… when the low-feature processor is being overutilized, the heterogeneous processor system transitions to a higher-power mode by switching execution of a thread […].”

Intel’s Lakefield architecture does approximately the same thing. It employs four 10nm Tremont cores as the low-feature processor and one 22nm Sunny Cover processor as the high-feature processor. Arm’s octa-core processors used in smartphones dedicate four cores to high-performance tasks while the other four manage background apps and connectivity and such.

One novel area of AMD’s patent is its discussion of different implementations. Two alternate configurations are suggested by the patent. In the first, physical storage common to both processors is used for communication between the two. In the second, there’s a virtual link created in the cache. Here’s a sample process in which the low-feature processor (the first processor) sends an instruction to the high-feature processor (the second processor) using the first configuration:

First processor executes a thread in low-power mode → first processor detects thread attempt to utilize unsupported feature → first processor stops execution of the thread → first processor indicates switch to second processor and saves thread state → second processor restores thread state from shared memory location and begins execution

A scenario like this might occur when the user makes the processor decode a video stream after arriving on the Twitch homepage, for example. Note that the high-feature processor was (or could have been) already active in this scenario; mulling around waiting to deal with the complex tasks sent by the low-feature processor.

Patents don’t indicate a company’s willingness to enter a market, and a rather airy patent like this certainly doesn’t confirm any attributes of future products. On the whole though, it’s very interesting to see AMD pursuing the mobile market with increasing fervor and taking the fight to Intel in yet another sector.

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Stark

Posts: 154   +136
They are just covering bases.
I am more intrigued to see how AMD competes when Intel gets its 10nm/7nm in order, will it be a repeat of Athlon/Phenom vs core days or they can keep up the momentum.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,478   +3,324
Perhaps it's a case of brand implementation for later actualization, but I get sickened seeing a Ryzen sticker next to an RTX sticker.
 
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Evernessince

Posts: 5,403   +5,992
Ah AMD returning to their roots! They have a history of copying Intel.

And before I get some triggered fanboy hurling abuse at me for saying this, I have the proof..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Am9080
Take note of a couple of things:

1) Heterogeneous computing (aka hybrid computing) was not invented by Intel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterogeneous_computing.

2) AMD takes a unique approach as described in the article

3) Intel followed AMD's lead by adding GPU cores to it's CPUs. With that in mind, Intel was copying AMD's heterogeneous designs far before this instance. In either case neither Intel nor AMD are the first to make a Hybrid processor. Both are copies if you consider it solely in that context (which doesn't make any sense BTW).

Most folks are aware AMD started out by copying Intel. That was 41 years ago. Knowledge of the past does not excuse ignorance of the present. Clearly the context of that past is also important. Do not pretend that past events at AMD of 41 years of age can so readily be applied to the current company.
 
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HardReset

Posts: 810   +361
How many errors I can spot on this clickbait news? First, Lakefield is not an architecture. It's basically combination of two separate CPU's on same package. Secondly as AMD tries to put both CPU's on same package, they will have much faster communication between them than Intel's Lakefield has. So this is very far from Lakefield copy, much better in fact.

Not to mention Lakefield is not fixed on 4+1 design.
 

Adi6293

Posts: 583   +690
Ah AMD returning to their roots! They have a history of copying Intel.

And before I get some triggered fanboy hurling abuse at me for saying this, I have the proof..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Am9080
Well if you actually read into this Intel had a contract with AMD and they ( Intel ) broke it, this is why AMD was "coping" their designs
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,197   +3,393
"One novel area of AMD’s patent is its discussion of different implementations. Two alternate configurations are suggested by the patent. In the first, physical storage common to both processors is used for communication between the two."

I'm pretty sure this was first done in the early 2000's. Not sure who, though..IBM, maybe.
 

ShadowDeath

Posts: 157   +97
Ah AMD returning to their roots! They have a history of copying Intel.

And before I get some triggered fanboy hurling abuse at me for saying this, I have the proof..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Am9080
Intel commissioned AMD as a second source of production for sale with IBM. Intel later broke the contract. Then took their time holding up any legal battle until the 2000s where Intel lost the court battle. Intel still hasn't paid a penny of that money for breaking the contract either.
 

PEnnn

Posts: 452   +385
"Intel’s Lakefield architecture does approximately the same thing"

"Approximately" doesn't mean exact. It's like saying a woman is "approximately" pregnant. Or a Ford Pinto is "approximately" the same thing as a Bentley because both have 4 tires.
 

Thanthan

Posts: 48   +97
I think it was anandtech Who described the patent as being ABOUT hardware-level distribution of tasks on specific threads, something intels lakefield processor does not do, and is a major weakness in the Windows space because of how slow Microsoft is to adapt the OS.

(and also if AMD were 'copying' someone, wouldnt it be arm, not Intel?)
 
Old idea that was not from intel. Even most of the cell phone chips nowadays have that. Can we assume the author is actually more knowledable than what the title of this article is showing? AMD has being working on putting various components on a system chp for long using 3d wafer packaging.
 
They are just covering bases.
I am more intrigued to see how AMD competes when Intel gets its 10nm/7nm in order, will it be a repeat of Athlon/Phenom vs core days or they can keep up the momentum.
So surprised that there is still someone never heard about tsmc!
 

jpuroila

Posts: 229   +119
The interesting part about this is that it enables using all features of the CPU cores while having small cores with a more limited instruction set. That's something neither Intel nor ARM has managed to accomplish so far(which is why Lakefield doesn't support AVX512 despite the Ice Lake core having the silicon for it).
 
Ah AMD returning to their roots! They have a history of copying Intel.

And before I get some triggered fanboy hurling abuse at me for saying this, I have the proof..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Am9080
For the record, when Jim Keller was re-hired by AMD (August 2012), in 2015, AMD and JK had two different designs for Zen. One was the Zen we know. The other was a hybrid Zen/ARM cpu which offered big cores and little cores. AMD had to postpone the hybrid design due to lack of funding and instead focused all their efforts on Zen (this was reported by all the pc tech sites).

Even back in 2015 intel was well aware of AMD's shelved design so intel clearly decided to misappropriate AMD's hybrid architecture as no patent was filed by AMD back in 2015.

Furthermore, intel has clearly misappropriated another AMD design and that is MCM architecture as used in Zen (and which will also be used in upcoming RDNA-3 and CDNA-3). The intel theft and implementation of MCM will be called intel XE and it will be the backbone of future intel gpu architecture.

Do you know who is in charge of intel gpu design?. It is raja koduri, the disgraced, ex-AMD gpu 'designer' who was fired by Lisa Su for failing to deliver on Polaris, Fury and Vega.

After he was fired, he jumped ship to intel where he had a very nice, cushy job waiting for him. That is no coincidence and it is also no coincidence that intel has misappropriated AMD's MCM architecture. All thanks to raja koduri. I wonder what other AMD design secrets he took to intel?.
 

Paul Dougherty

Posts: 12   +8
Assuming AMD makes such a chip, they have an advantage in not needing Microsoft to actually support it properly. Intel will need MS to get the Windows Scheduler working properly.
 
Ah AMD returning to their roots! They have a history of copying Intel.

And before I get some triggered fanboy hurling abuse at me for saying this, I have the proof..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Am9080

Intel commissioned AMD as a second source of production for sale with IBM. Intel later broke the contract. Then took their time holding up any legal battle until the 2000s where Intel lost the court battle. Intel still hasn't paid a penny of that money for breaking the contract either.

Intel is now being sued for securities fraud.
 
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Do not forget that in March 2017, intel was caught red handed for bribing numerous tech review sites to downplay the IPC gain of G1-Ryzen. Intel is way more dirty than nvidia. No doubt about it.
 
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