Chipmaker AMD hires Dell senior executive in server push
SAN FRANCISCO Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:49pm EDT
(Reuters) – Advanced Micro Devices Inc said it hired a former Dell Inc [DI.UL] senior executive to lead the chipmaker’s push into microservers and other new markets.
Forrest Norrod will be senior vice president and general manager of AMD’s enterprise, embedded and semi-custom business group and report to Chief Executive Lisa Su, AMD said in a news release on Monday.
Norrod, 49, was general manager of Dell’s server business and joins AMD as the company develops chips for new low-power servers that might challenge heavyweight Intel Corp in cutting-edge data centers.
AMD has been expanding into new markets including low-power “microservers” and game consoles, but progress has been slower than demanded by Wall Street.
Earlier this month, Su took over as CEO, replacing Rory Read. Norrod fills Su’s previous position, which she h
ad held temporarily since July.
Following Su’s appointment as CEO, AMD announced on Oct. 16 it was cutting 7 percent of its workforce to reduce costs.
Microsoft Said to Work on Software for ARM-Based Servers
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is working on a version of its software for server computers that run on chips based on ARM Holdings Plc (ARM)’s technology, people familiar with its plans said, a move that could help loosen Intel Corp. (INTC)’s grip on the market.
The world’s largest software maker has a test version of Windows Server that’s already running on ARM-based servers, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public yet. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, hasn’t yet decided whether to make the software commercially available, one of the people said. Microsoft now only offers a server operating system for use on Intel’s X86 technology-based processors.
An ARM-based version of Windows Server may help bolster efforts by computer manufacturers to bring ARM’s technology into more powerful computers where it could challenge Intel’s dominance. ARM dominates in mobile-phone chips, while Intel has 98 percent of the market for processors used in servers that run on personal-computer chips.
Mark Miller, a spokesman for Microsoft’s cloud-computing and enterprise business, and Edmund Gemmell, a spokesman for Cambridge, U.K.-based ARM, declined to comment.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and other companies have said that ARM-based chips have a place in servers, where they can compete with Intel’s products on power savings and price. Hewlett-Packard this year began offering a version of its Moonshot server line that runs on ARM-based processors from Applied Micro Circuits Corp. ARM licenses the technology used in processors and also sells designs.
Although Hewlett-Packard announced plans to use ARM-based hardware in 2011, Intel has gained share in that time as the rival technology failed to catch on. Early ARM-based server chips lacked fundamental capabilities needed in servers and not enough software was available for the machines. A similar effort by Microsoft to offer a version of Windows running on ARM chips for tablet computers failed after the devices didn’t catch on with consumers.
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Everspin deal with Global Foundries may push MRAM chips to production faster
The deal is a step towards greater mass production of the new memory technology
By Martyn Williams | Published: 16:46, 27 October 2014
Everspin has signed up chip maker Global Foundries as a manufacturing partner for its next-generation MRAM (Magnetoresistive RAM) memory chips, in a development that should help the promising technology move toward mass production.
MRAM is an emerging memory technology that offers the speed of fast memory technologies like SRAM and can hold its contents for long periods like flash memory. This best-of-both-worlds ability has some in the memory chip industry excited about future use of the technology, but mass production is only just beginning.
“New memory technology has the problem of getting entry into the market and getting credibility,” said Phill LoPresti, president and CEO of Everspin. “With our research and development, we’re getting access to finer [production technology] and that will help us accelerate deployment [of MRAM].”
Under the deal, the value of which was not announced, Global Foundries will invest in production technology to initially make ST-MRAM (Spin-Torque-MRAM) chips on 300-millimeter wafers on a 40-nanometer production line.
The nanometer measurement refers to the smallest feature that can be produced by the equipment and is an indication of the sophistication of the manufacturing line. While starting at 40 nm, the MRAM manufacturing deal already has a plan to switch to a 28-nm line, which will result in smaller and more power-efficient chips.
The chip maker has also taken a financial stake in Everspin.
Everspin chips can already be found inside several commercial products including battery backup devices, that require fast memory that can hold data in the event of a power failure, and as cache memory inside storage devices. The company says it has shipped over 40 million chips to date.
Everspin was created in 2008 when it was spun out of Freescale, and Global Foundries was born a year later when AMD divested its manufacturing arm. Global Foundries acquired Chartered Semiconductor later the same year and last week announced plans to buy IBM’s semiconductor business.
Everspin is not the only company pursuing MRAM development.
Earlier this month, TDK showed off some of its first work in MRAM development. It has been working on MRAM for several years, but has yet to begin commercial production. The prototypes shown in Tokyo were 8-megabit chips, and were demonstrated reading and writing data at about seven times faster than flash memory.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn’s e-mail address is email@example.com