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Recently published patent hints at AMD hybrid CPU plans

by Mark Tyson on 14 June 2021, 11:11

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

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Details about "AMD's version of big.LITTLE," have been unearthed by Twitter user Kepler. The patent application was filed back in December 2019 but only published last Thursday. If you wish to see all the images, please click on the PDF link at that location.

In its patent documents, AMD says that relying on operating system-level and other higher-level software decisions to move tasks between different processors within a system can introduce "substantial overhead in terms of performance inefficiencies and additional power consumption". Thus, it has designed a 'Method of task transition between heterogenous processors,' which is the title of its patent.

Instead of relying on the OS, AMD says that it has hardware to monitor one or more metrics associated with execution of a task, which can determine whether to stall and switch processing to a 'relatively less-powerful processor', a 'relatively more-powerful processor', or even to a graphics processing unit, where one is available in a heterogeneous architecture (like an APU). In other words, it will smartly switch tasks from suboptimal to optimal processors without any help from the OS required.

Metrics AMD's task transition method will keep an eye on include;

  • Core utilisation
  • Compute time completion estimates
  • Memory utilisation
  • DMA data rate

Taking into account the above, it is reasonable to assume that AMD is at least pondering over moving its Ryzen processors to a hybrid core architecture – like Intel's Alder Lake – in the coming months / years. The latest rumours suggest it will be the AMD Ryzen 8000 series (dubbed Strix Point) CPUs / APUs which will be the first hybrid core processors from AMD. We are probably looking at 2022 for these AMD processors to emerge, boasting a mix of "high-performance Zen 5 cores and low-powered Zen '4D' cores," according to Tom's Hardware.

Microsoft's next generation of Windows is thought to be important to these new hybrid CPUs too, with a revamped scheduler under the bonnet. Many think it isn't a coincidence that 'Windows 11' will arrive at just the right time for Intel's Alder Lake chips – Wintel keeps on rolling.



HEXUS Forums :: 27 Comments

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I wonder if the new Intel and AMD CPUs doing this,is the reason why we are having Windows 11?? It will be interesting to see if ADL works better with Windows 11.
CAT-THE-FIFTH
I wonder if the new Intel and AMD CPUs doing this,is the reason why we are having Windows 11?? It will be interesting to see if ADL works better with Windows 11.

I assumed Win 11 was another attempt to extract recurring revenue from us.

This patent from AMD is interesting in that it implies AMD might be able to do two different cores again. They seemed too low on engineering resources to split some off on a modern Jaguar replacement to make this work. Not that I ever saw much point of a hybrid cpu in a PC. Unless perhaps they are all the same core design, just some are layed out on the silicon for lower clock speed at lower power so when the fast CPUs have to downclock to their all core maximum they become the same speed as the “slow” cores.
DanceswithUnix
CAT-THE-FIFTH
I wonder if the new Intel and AMD CPUs doing this,is the reason why we are having Windows 11?? It will be interesting to see if ADL works better with Windows 11.

I assumed Win 11 was another attempt to extract recurring revenue from us.

This patent from AMD is interesting in that it implies AMD might be able to do two different cores again. They seemed too low on engineering resources to split some off on a modern Jaguar replacement to make this work. Not that I ever saw much point of a hybrid cpu in a PC. Unless perhaps they are all the same core design, just some are layed out on the silicon for lower clock speed at lower power so when the fast CPUs have to downclock to their all core maximum they become the same speed as the “slow” cores.

It's not useful in Win 10 currently as the scheduler is, to be fair, pants. However now Linux, some Mac os thingy and other OS's are all much better at handling mixed core types I'm guessing, well speculating that Win 11 is the reason for this and is basically a new way of Windows working. If I hear another person telling me how great the M1 chip is this shows how people think it's the greatest thing since, well erm, sliced bread, this proves that Windows will have to catch up. Thing is it will *probably* break a huge amount of older software
DanceswithUnix
CAT-THE-FIFTH
I wonder if the new Intel and AMD CPUs doing this,is the reason why we are having Windows 11?? It will be interesting to see if ADL works better with Windows 11.

I assumed Win 11 was another attempt to extract recurring revenue from us.

This patent from AMD is interesting in that it implies AMD might be able to do two different cores again. They seemed too low on engineering resources to split some off on a modern Jaguar replacement to make this work. Not that I ever saw much point of a hybrid cpu in a PC. Unless perhaps they are all the same core design, just some are layed out on the silicon for lower clock speed at lower power so when the fast CPUs have to downclock to their all core maximum they become the same speed as the “slow” cores.

This is exactly why Win 11 is needed. It's not how the others do it, they have much much better schedulers. AMD however is moving a lot of the work into hardware so it might mean better compatibility
This patent is interesting to me not because it's another company looking at big.LITTLE (Papermaster hinted/specifically didn't deny that they were looking at it early last year) but the fact this appears to be OS-agnostic. This means that adoption for it will be easy and can be a practical drop in replacement for existing architectures.

What is also very interesting is the fact it can look at optimising the switch to using GPU cores as well. So Intel has ASICs in their CPUs, like AVX etc, that have to be specifically called by an application to be utilised and if someone codes their application to not specifically use the ASIC then it will sit on the general purpose silicon which will be very slow. However, with this patented solution, AMDs core manager will be able to go “hey, that's vectorised mathematics” and move the thread over to the GPU cores for the duration of that thread tasks. This means that AMD won't have to resort to ASICs like Intel (although they might still do so with the Xilinx acquisition) and will be able to have extremely diverse heterogenous compute systems that don't rely on the developer to specifically code path for it at every step.

I expected AMD to look at a split architecture because it does make sense for mobile systems, less so for Desktops (but we shall see), but this does have a big benefit that Alder Lake will flounder over and that is core difference compatibilities. When Alder Lake is in full hybrid mode, you will not be able to take advantage of half the ASICs (AVX etc) available so for high performance desktops, it makes no sense to buy an Alder Lake system which you have to disable the hybridisation just to use the full feature set. Whereas with this methodology by AMD, it looks like it doesn't matter at all because if the thread has specific characteristics/needs, it'll just move it automatically.

I hope AMD move forwards with this to a working demo, their implementation is quite…“refined”. Maybe they looked at Alder Lake and observed “how they could do better”…

CAT-THE-FIFTH
I wonder if the new Intel and AMD CPUs doing this,is the reason why we are having Windows 11?? It will be interesting to see if ADL works better with Windows 11.

It could be if you use Alder Lake on Windows 10, the hybridisation is disabled…

The latest rumours suggest it will be the AMD Ryzen 8000 series (dubbed Strix Point) CPUs / APUs which will be the first hybrid core processors from AMD. We are probably looking at 2022 for these AMD processors to emerge, boasting a mix of “high-performance Zen 5 cores and low-powered Zen ‘4D’ cores,”

We're about to hit Ryzen 6000 series in 2022 (IIRC), not sure how the 8000 series will be the first hybrid core processors when the x000 numbering convention is on a 12-16 month cadence meaning these will be 2024 at the earliest. That and Zen 5 would be at least 2023 from the last roadmap?