AMD Cancelled Project Skybridge Because Global Foundries Terminated 20nm BULK – Italian Publication

Project Skybridge was announced approximately a year ago and was as ambitious as any project. AMD planned to combine x86 and ARM in a common platform but come this part Analyst Day Conference and the project was officially declared dead. Today, a report published by the Italian publication claims that the reason AMD pulled th plug on Skybridge was because Global Foundry canceled its 20nm process.

AMD Project Skybridge APU SOCA slide from an old AMD slide deck. @AMD Public Domain

AMD's Skybridge was cancelled because of economic infeasibility after termination of GloFo's 20nm BULK process

The Project Skybridge was AMD’s next generation ambidextrous computing architecture that allowed x86 Cores and ARM cores to be pin-to-pin compatible. The Project Sky-Bridge featured a new family of APUs and SOCs based on the low-power 20nm Cortex A57 cores with AMD’s GCN core architecture. Basically, the Project SkyBridge allowed these low-power ARM based SOCs to run on the same motherboards as the x86 low-power SOCs which were going to feature AMD’s Puma+ cores. Theses ARM SOCs would also have been among the first to feature full support for Android OS platform (something AMD hasn’t achieved till now).

The report by the Italian publication claims that the reasons for the cancellation of Skybridge were not so simple as just lack of interest - rather economics played an important part. Because the 20nm BULK process of Global Foundries was cancelled, AMD had the choice to either redesign the platform to the 28HP GloFo node or the 20SOC TSMC node - both of which were going to incur additional costs, further decreasing the chance of profit, something that AMD was vary of after so many quarters of losses. Samsung wasn't really an option but I would like to point out that even they have cancelled their 20nm low power process.

Skybridge was valiant effort to unify the x86 and ARM platforms but AMD's financial troubles are clearly taking quite the toll on the development of its IP. With Skybridge AMD had been planning to finally dive into the mobile market properly (Android support). Ofcourse, since AMD has exited the microserver market, Skybridge would probably have been cancelled either way. The termination of Skybridge didn't, however, come as a surprise - since AMD has been mostly silent about it since launching it those 12 months back.

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