AMD might release a hybrid x86 CPU with big.LITTLE architecture in the near future. The big.LITTLE designs have been dominating the smartphone sector for years, and they have become so important that even Intel has been encouraged to design a hybrid x86 CPU based on this same precept. We are talking about Alder Lake-S, a generation of processors that will follow Rocket Lake-S’ path, and they should reach the market between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
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AMD will also bet on big.LITTLE CPU designs. In several filtered patents we have been able to see that AMD has been evaluating the possibility of developing a hybrid x86 CPU based on this design for some time, although they have not made any official statement about a generation of processors of this type yet.
Joe Macri, vice president and director of product technology at AMD, has broken this trend during a recent event and he has confirmed that they have been analyzing this type of architecture for years, but it is still unclear whether they will dare to develop a generation of processors based on the big.LITTLE architecture.
Hybrid x86 CPU with big.LITTLE structure: how would it work exactly?
This is the key question that we must ask ourselves before entering to evaluate Macri’s words. A processor of this type would be divided into at least two blocks of cores, one high performance and one low performance. For example, in the high-performance block, we could find 8 Zen 3 cores at high frequencies and in the other block we could also have 8 Zen 3 cores at a lower frequency. AMD could also use different architectures, and combine Zen cores with others with low consumption.
Alder Lake-S processors will, in fact, combine a high-performance Core block with another high-efficiency Atom core block. Both blocks will be able to work both independently and together, which means that the two modules can easily work in parallel simultaneously.
Macri has made clear that this concept has been in the industry for many years, and big.LITTLE designs are nothing new. The executive believes that this architecture could offer an important value in the world of the PC, but “it will not be useful until software capable of taking advantage of it appears”. If we read between the lines the conclusion is clear, AMD does not rule out creating a hybrid x86 CPU with big.LITTLE structure, but they will only do so “when the time comes”.
The big.LITTLE architecture allows a more efficient way of different workloads, deriving the less intensive tasks to the low consumption cores and the most demanding tasks to the high-performance cores. This effectively parallelizes all tasks, reducing power consumption and working temperatures without sacrificing performance.
AMD might release a hybrid x86 CPU with big.LITTLE architecture in the near future. Needless to say, it could also be an interesting option for next-generation consoles. Such a design would allow the creation of a chip with a low power core block that would be reserved for the system and the base applications, and another high-performance core block that would be used only by games.