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AMD follows Intel hybrid chip designs, high power computing meets low power efficiency
By Neil Soutter on August 14th, 2020 at 03:00pm - original article from game-debate

It looks like AMD has patented a design that seems to be rather similar to ARM’s big.LITTLE designs, that sees the performance capabilities of ‘big’ cores combined with the power efficiency of ‘LITTLE’ cores. The idea being you have the best of both worlds with high power computing and low-power efficiency all on one chip.

Also known as a hybrid chip, Intel took quite a liking to the design and is supposedly using it in their upcoming Alder Lake-based processors. But now a patent has surfaced online that suggests AMD is also looking into the idea as far back as 2017.

Shoving a dozen or two cores onto a single processor makes for some great multi-core performance, with AMD and Intel competing against each other to get the best scores. However, these designs are rather inefficient, and the demand for single-core performance is growing. So the hybrid design was created to bring high performance without the higher power draw.

AMD’s patent sounds eerily familiar to the way ARM does it with their big.LITTLE processors. The file itself was dug up online by user Underfox3 on Twitter, and describes how one processor called “high-feature” would be used in conjunction with another “low-feature” processor in order to split tasks evenly for maximum efficiency.

AMD big.LITTLE hybrid chip patent

AMD heterogeneous processor system abstract

AMD hybrid chip design patent

There are three different designs in the patent, each focusing on separate configurations of cache and shared registers, although each design shares one core similarity in handing over executions to high-power chips when the low-power ones start to become over utilized.

However, the interesting thing to note here is that these designs are specifically labelled for mobile devices as they would affect battery life, and most likely won’t be implemented for desktop processors for a while at least. Though this is not as much of a problem considering battery life is not necessarily a concern for desktop PCs, and so is most likely not implemented for the upcoming Zen 3-based Ryzen 4000 desktop processors due this year.

Although one day in the future we may need it considering power draws for certain hardware are starting to increase exponentially, and the need for a more efficient processor just might be on the cards then.

What do you think? Are you excited for an AMD hybrid chip? When do you reckon desktop processors will need such a design? Let us know!