AMD and ARM joined by Imagination, TI, and MediaTek

AFDS 2012: HSA foundation aims to mix, match, and code

AMD - logoIt’s starting. At AFDS, AMD today announced the HSA Foundation, basically a governing body for the HSA/FSA architecture. The interesting bit is not just what it is, but who joined.

If you recall, last year, AMD and ARM sang from the same hymn book at AFDS, then didn’t quite announce that they were making a common bus. The idea is simple, FSA, now called HSA, is a way to both simplify silicon level IP compatibility and coding for the result with the FSAIL paradigm. Most people didn’t get it, especially Didier Schemama, who we will continue to mock until he gets a clue.

What should get your attention is who signed up to be partners in the new HSA Foundation, that would be AMD, ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek Inc., and Texas Instruments. This is not a group of lightweights, and it has some serious implications. First is that, once the IP blocks are finished, you should be able to mix and match x86 or ARM cores, AMD, ARM, or Imagination GPUs, and MediaTek and TI accelerator blocks. That is quite a wide list of IP to put in, and it is only the first group, others will surely follow.

Along with the IP blocks, the FSAIL language spec will massively simplify the task of coding for the resultant beasties. You can see hints of it here, but the idea is simple, not quite write once, run anywhere, but more one paradigm to rule them all, one paradigm to bind them. Given the costs of coding for this type of platform, this is perhaps the more significant than the hardware.

In the end, AMD is looking quite serious about making a new world of mix and match hardware and software to run on it. If done right, it should literally change how things are done from top to bottom, dishwashers to servers, phones to jumbo jets. The IP catalog they have available with the five founders is borderline staggering, and it will only get bigger. If the HSA Foundation hasn’t already gotten a critical mass of coder interest too, it will soon. From here, it looks like AMD did the right thing for the right reason, don’t underestimate this one.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.