AMD licenses server processor technology to Chinese companies

Subject: Processors | April 21, 2016 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: amd, Zen, China, chinese, licensing

As part of its earnings release today, it was announced that AMD has partnered with a combination of public and private Chinese companies to license its high-end server architecture and products. The Chinese company is called THATIC, Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd., and it will license x86 designs and SoC technology providing all the tools needed to make a server platform including CPUs, interconnects and controllers.

This move is important and intriguing in several ways. First, for AMD, this could be a step to get the company and its products some traction and growth after falling well behind Intel's Xeon platforms in the server space. Increasing the market share of AMD technology, in nearly any capacity, is a move the company needs to have any chance to return to profitability. For the Chinese government, it finally will get access to the x86 architecture, though not in the form of its own license.

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By licensing the x86 designs to THATIC, AMD could create an entire host of competitors for itself as well as for Intel, which won't help Intel's in-roads into the Chinese markets for enterprise tech. Intel does not license out x86 technology at all, deciding instead to keep it completely in-house in hopes of being the single provider of processors for devices from the cloud to the smartphone.

The first products built by THATIC will likely use the upcoming Zen architecture, due out in early 2017. AMD creates an interesting space for itself with this partnership - the company will sell its own Zen-based chips that could compete with the custom designs the Chinese organization builds. It's possible that a non-compete of sales based on region is part of the arrangement.

Out of the gate, AMD expects to make $293 million from the deal as part of the joint-venture and also will make money based on royalties. That's great news for a company just posted another net loss for Q1 2016. 

Source: Forbes

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April 21, 2016 | 06:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Give your production to China you will be counterfeit. Give your IP to China you will go to bankruptcy. I think it is time for investors to sell AMD from their portfolio... I'm wondering if the x86 agreement with Intel allows AMD to sublicense the x86 technology.

April 21, 2016 | 07:34 PM - Posted by nvmd (not verified)

Exactly what I had in mind. They must have a plan, though. It can't be just this stupidity and that's it.

April 21, 2016 | 10:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's most likely that AMD is only licensing its SeaMicro/other IP and interconnect technology! SeaMicro as an AMD devision remains shuttered but AMD can do whatever with the SeaMicro IP. AMD is not likely going to be able to license directly any of the Zen's x86 cross-license IP. but AMD is partnering with them to provide the Zen cores Die, and probably the GPU accelerator DIE, and other functionality. If these server SKUs are of the APU on an interposer types of Server SKUs that AMD has in development for the HPC/server/workstation market then maybe AMD will be providing THATIC, Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd. with Zen core dies and GPU dies for THATIC to integrate into their own custom APU on an interposer based SKUs in a method not to different from what AMD does with its console customers. Creating APUs on an interposer will allow for AMD and its partners to save of chip farication costs/yealds by fabricating the Zen cores Dies separately from the GPU Die/s and allow of more effeicent and better total APU/Interposer integration in the future.

AMD has no problem supplying the console makers with custom APU configurations, so AMD could with its interposer technology provide many custom APU on and interposer solutions to any company looking to fund the development of interopser based server SKUs like THATIC. AMD could develop many modular APU on an Interposer solutions to offer any custom clients more configuration options to meet the clients needs. Clients could come up with their own interposer based solutions with AMD supplying the Zen and GPU dies to be integrated onto the clients own interposer based designs. AMD will still be selling CPUs and GPUs it's just that instead of supplying a CPU or GPU socketed solutions to be plugged into PCB based motherboards AMD will be supplying just the unpackaged ZEN cores dies and GPU dies to be added to an interposer package.

April 22, 2016 | 03:28 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Intel is already in bed with China and the whole planet is sending it's designs and technologies to China, so they can build the cheapest possible products. Why suddenly AMD is a problem?

April 22, 2016 | 03:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

AMD is now in serious trouble since the company lost 660 million dollars for the last fiscal year against 403 million dollars in 2014. If AMD is giving its IP to China, it means that arab investors from Qatar run out of cash as long as oil is sinking. I suspect Qatar investors trying to sell AMD to China in hope to save their wallet before it goes to bankruptcy.

April 22, 2016 | 04:41 AM - Posted by StephanS

They have trillions in reserves... they can get any kind of money they want, and for cheap, to buy anything they want.

Oil rich Islamic states are not slowing down world wide acquisitions.

Saudi arabia is adding a 2 trillion fund to its economic war chest. they are sitting on 100 to 200 trillion in petro $$$$.
Enough to acquire all fortune 500 companies and have 195 trillions left over.

Oil price simply will force them to only buy 500 gold platted McLaren instead of 800 this year.
And instead of buying 50 European hotels, they will only buy 40 this year.

If the regulators where not stopping them, Intel would have been acquired by an oil rich islamic state long ago.
Remember when saudi arabia tried to take control all US ports ?
The transfer of control almost happen before the US congress said "no way!"

April 22, 2016 | 05:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Arab reserves are as dry as Russian reserves or China fake growth is flat. The economic war between oil producers mainly USA against Russia and Saudi arabia is also a communication war. There's a lot of speculation about the oil production stability on the highest level ever pumped by producers... Iranian oil will sink even more the barrel in the future!

I think the competition between oil producers is safe for the world economy, that's what a competitive market should be. Actually the oil war will sign the death of OPEC, an anticompetitve organisation for oil cost inflation. Oil producers didn't developp their economy as much as they should and that's only their fault! I won't cry if oil kings lose their pants...

April 22, 2016 | 09:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So AMD is losing money and they are producing new sources of revenues it's the revenues that have to be watched along with the cash on hand that AMD has to cushion any losing quarters. AMD is also a very important supplier to Apple for GPU parts, and potentially APU parts should AMD's APUs on an interposer purposed designs allow Apple to save space while saving power. APUs on an interposer with power saving HBM will definitely save on the power budget and save internal laptop space. Apple and others dependent on AMDs product line can and will arrange for the banks help to keep AMD from going under.

The PC market is in decline for all the market players, but AMD's server APU on an Interpoesr designs are very attractive owing to the many power saving while providing high effective memory bandwidth HBM/interposer technology features that are extremely attractive to the server/HPC and exascale markets. AMD's R&D and innovation efforts are producing tangible results, even if the results are still behind some NDA agreements. AMDs Zen products have already been in the testing phase with many potential clients, as are most processor/GPU/other products well in advance of the release to the public. You can be damn sure that behind many pay-walled publications the professional analysts already have some ideas of the price to performance metrics that AMD will be able to bring to the server/HPC markets, especially with AMD's APU on an interposer technology and other IP that is already winning AMD new business.

The stock market short sellers may only be interested in AMD's stock volatility but the server/HPC and Government exacale initiative scientists are paying close attention to AMD's exascale APUs on an interposer design proposals. More needs to be said about AMD APU on an interposer technology, for one HBM is already in use for GPUs and saving power and providing higher effective bandwidth on AMD's GPU SKUs that use HBM. Add to that the potential of the silicon based Interposer technology to allow for CPU cores/die to be more directly wired up to beefier GPU die with the very same HBM style wide parallel connection traces and there is the potential for AMD to be able to fabricate the CPU cores die separately from the GPU die and wire them up via the interposer as if they where on a single monolithic die and you can see the future potential for some very powerful server/workstation and exascale APUs on an interposer package.

The interposer technology will allow a CPU cores die to be connected by a very direct and very wide parallel connection fabric such that any PCI or other narrow data path solution will never be able to compete on the amount effective bandwidth front, or the power usage front. You just can't beat having a wide parallel connection for its ability to provide high effective bandwidth at lower connection clock cycles relative to the much more narrow and higher clocked and power hungry PCI or narrow DDR memory channels solutions currently in use!

April 22, 2016 | 10:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Your comment looks like a marketing spam/scam... Speaking for tangible results with marketing slides delaying the HBM2 use from 2016 to 2017 is quite amusing. :o)

April 22, 2016 | 02:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No marketing monkey scams here, you just can not wrap you limited gray matter around the potential of interposer technology for AMD's APUs on the intepposer, or other makers SOC products, as AMD does not hold the rights to using silicon interposers at the exclusion of Intel and others. The silicon interposer will supplant the PCB motherboard as the main host of the various Processor/main memory Dies on APUs for AMD and SOCs for others, there is really no better way of running tens of thousands of traces between CPU Dies and Other GPU/DSP/FPGA/HBM/Other dies for any interposer package based APUs/SOCs by many makers! There will be other makers besides AMD and Nvidia that will be using HBM/CPU/GPU interposer based SOCs that are all wired up via a silicon based interposer.

This is high technology and Intel, AMD, and Nvidia/others are not football teams so that pathological loyalty does not apply to any high technology innovations and processes. Get you heads out of your A$$e$ slack-jawed fanboys this is not sports it's high technology. There is no such thing as a gaming NERD, there are only limited numbers of NERDS that game, most Science/computer NERDS are Too Busy to spend all their time gaming, and technology is not bound to any Podunk Hick's aspirations and wasted existence!

April 23, 2016 | 08:58 PM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

Dont know what EMIB is, do you?

April 24, 2016 | 04:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Good for Intel, The whole Industry needs to go with wide parallel connections for on package/on interposer SOCs/APUs and forget about having to encode/decode into narrow PCI/Other slow/latency inducing connection fabrics.

Interposer technology will allow for much more power savings at much higher effective bandwidth for CPU to GPU connections on an interposer package, as well as CPU/other dies like HBM dies or FPGA/DSP dies. I'm talking about having all these different processor dies able to be wired up via tens of thousands of wide parallel traces from processor dies made on the best fabrication processes that suits the processing being done and wired together on the Interposer as if they where fabricated on a single die.

So any APUs/SOCs built on an interposer will have the ability to vastly outperform any of the current systems that rely on the narrower PCI/Other types of interconnect protocols that induce latency by having to encode/decode data transfers. The interposer will become a main module of sorts instead of an on a PCB main/motherboard that traditionally plays host to the main memory and separate processor dies, with the interposer/whatever hosting all of the processor dies and main memory HBM/other Dies and the interposer able to be etched with tens of thousands of traces to wire things up in parallel between all the interposer hosted processor/memory dies. PCB technology will never be able to have tens of thousands of parallel traces economically applied to a PCB the same way that a silicon based interposer will be able to have etched into the interposer's silicon substrate, and bridge connectors will be there to connect up multiple interposer packages.

No one is saying that the PCB is going to disappear, as that will probably still play host to the interposer package/module and have only power traces and some external traces for attaching secondary RAM(Until HBM/Other technologies can store TBs of data)/etc. But PCBs do not have the ability have as fine or densely packed traces as silicon that can have traces as fine as a few nanometers wide. So the interposer will allow for some on single monolithic die types of wiring up for separate processor dies owing to the fact that the interposer is made up of silicon just like the processor dies are.

April 24, 2016 | 10:57 PM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

EMIB isnt an interposer or PCB. Its pretty interesting stuff. Altera uses it ok their 10 TFLOPS FPGA too.

April 21, 2016 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Tralalak (not verified)

"For the Chinese government, it finally will get access to the x86 architecture, though not in the form of its own license."

You are wrong!

VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., is a joint venture between Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. who is affiliated to Shanghai SASAC and VIA Technologies, Inc.

April 22, 2016 | 10:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Who cares about Intel's/others x86 technology when the Chinese and anyone else can via OpenPower license the Power8, and power9 technology. The power8 already beats Xeon on many server metrics and the power9s will just add to that beating. The power9's will also be very integrated with Nvidia's GPU accelerator technology so what the F__K is so special about the x86 ISA! The mobile market does very fine with the ARMv8A ISA(And older ARM ISAs) and Apple makes more billions off of its Phones/Tablets that any of its x86 SKUs. AMD's custom ARM K12 based SKUs will probably give Apple's A7/A8/A9/newer designs a run for the custom ARMv8A ISA IPC crown, IF AMD's Jim Keller run design teams shared a lot of the Zen(x86) and K12(custom ARMv8A ISA running) design tenets especially if K12 has SMT capabilities built into its CPU's cores! The x86 ISA is not the only ISA game in town, just look at the ARM based players that make Intel look small by comparsion! And those licensed third party non IBM pwoer8s/9s are alread hitting the market, and Google/Others will be using the Power9s in their server farms!

April 22, 2016 | 10:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Many AMD gurus spread the prophecy which pretend the messiah Jim Keller will save AMD (once again) but the deafening silence about the reason of his departure is rather worrying...

April 22, 2016 | 12:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

first sort of off topic, but he left for Tesla currently maybe the hottest "tech company" going right now, who with their self driving car ambitions maybe shaping human culture for billions. Working with all that might seem more appealing then doing something he has been doing for decades.

April 22, 2016 | 03:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Keller's MO is leaving when his part of the job is done, Keller is too valuable to just be allowed to sit around and not producing a new design. His needed services where up and others with the cash have other projects for Keller to work on. Jim Keller is not the messiah he is the goto Guy when you need a CPU core designed Zen and K12 where made by many talented engineers, it's just that Keller is a proven leader of CPU design teams that gets his work done and goes on to the next project. Keller's talents are best not wasted sitting around designing nothing! Keller hates to be bored and doing nothing, plus Keller's pay was is not a small expense for AMD, so think of Keller more as a consultant, and not so much a traditional employee!

April 22, 2016 | 06:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It seems that Jim Keller has a lot of psychiatrist friends on the web... :-D

April 22, 2016 | 08:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No shrinks for Keller, just shrinks for the gaming community, so many Wack-O Fanboys there, but Keller does not stay in one place too long! I would not work in a corprate environment unless they kept their marketing employees stationed on some rock of an Island in the middle of the sea. Between marketing and the MBA flubber heads filling suits and chairs but doing little else to add stockholder value, things are not so good staying in one place too long if you are an engineer that likes a challenge!

April 22, 2016 | 06:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


AMD stock price up 52% in a DAY!

April 22, 2016 | 06:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is official China bought AMD stocks. :-D

As the adage say, sell in May and go away!

April 23, 2016 | 08:55 PM - Posted by BiteMeChina (not verified)

Even more reason to say "fuck AMD and their shitty products".

At least a lot of the good, new Intel stuff is banmed for export to China.

But its not like they dont hack in and steal the shit they want to coumterfeit anyway.

Why even bother to sell them it? Couldnt they hack AMD?

April 24, 2016 | 10:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

China could hack AMD if and only if they had skilled engineers... but in fact, chinese engineers corrupt western univerities to buy their degree without learning anything if not what they already knew since their birthday. Once back to China they pretend to be competent to get the highest social rank they paid for. It's hard to fight traditions...

April 24, 2016 | 04:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You are so full of it, the Chinese/others that come here as grad students are here because the American professors can not find enough qualified grad and doctoral candidates, because in America getting an education in the sciences is not a valued profession by the majority of the American populace. You live in the post industrial part of the world Joe, and you labor is not needed! Get yourself back to an agrarian existence, as you lack the skill-set to function in any urban area. Those Chinese/Indian/other nationalities grad students where studying when you where partying and watching your sports, and the Nerds and their ROBOTS will inheret the world! Back to the sticks with all of you Hicks!

April 25, 2016 | 03:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Don't be too selfish and think a bit more about robots that will destroy jobs for your full line of bastards left in China/India/whatever...

April 25, 2016 | 01:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Some of the comments are very interesting and the others are rubbish.

This deal between AMD and THATIC is very complex. AMD has only provided a few details.

Anyway, this deal will help AMD to re-enter the server market with the zen processors.

"New Delhi: Chipmaker AMD plans to enter the Indian electronics sector in a big way and has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HSMC for chip manufacturing in the country, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday.

AMD CEO and president Lisa Su met Mr Prasad and conveyed that the company is committed to transform India into electronics manufacturing hub."

Intel has hurt AMD. Now AMD can hurt Intel thru these joint ventures. AMD needs help from the US regulators but none is coming.

AMD needs money for the R&D. AMD is licensing its own technology. Intel will not be able to do anything.

Something for the Intel fanboys to chew on:

Intel to cut 12,000 jobs globally. It is more than AMD's head-count now.

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