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Coup for AMD: Qualcomm Joins HSA Foundation as a Founder Member


Back in June, during the AFDS 2012 held in Bellevue, WA, AMD held a press conference announcing the formation of Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation (HSA Foundation).

The founding members were AMD, ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, Samsung Electronics and Texas Instruments. Over the past four months, membership more than doubled and the organization just announced its 13th member – Qualcomm Inc.

In what seems to be a major coup for the organization, Qualcomm Inc. is signing on with a top tier membership – Founder Member. This announcement also means the HSA Foundation brings together the majority of SoC vendors under one roof. According to our conversation with Phil Rogers, Corporate Fellow at AMD and President of HSA Foundation, the goal is very simple – to create a software framework that enables maximum utilization of SoC processing elements such as the CPU and GPU.

It is pretty clear why Qualcomm felt the urge to join in this developing network, especially since MultiCoreWare is one of members. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Series is first out the door with ARM Cortex-A15-class processors paired with unified shader core GPU, bringing support for DirectX 11 (DirectCompute) and OpenCL. None of the companies in the alliance have as much experience with integration of CPU and GPU as Advanced Micro Devices, and by working together – consumers will get better performing products.

In statements released, Phil Rogers expressed a warm welcome to Qualcomm; "With HSA, computing becomes much more power efficient, enabling member companies like Qualcomm, to create unique and compelling experiences for the consumer."

His statement was joined by Jim Thompson, Senior Vice President at Qualcomm; "Future Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm will contain substantially more computing performance and integrated parallel processing technology in order to meet the high performance, low power needs of our mobile customers," before continuing to state that Qualcomm "believes that developers will be able to deliver faster and more innovative applications on future Snapdragon processors if certain aspects of heterogeneous computing are standardized, so we are pleased to join the HSA Foundation to help define open standards."

BSN* Take
As the silicon becomes more integrated and technologies that were viewed as opposing start working towards the same goal, it is not uncommon to see alliances taking place. We might add it is especially interesting to see alliances forming around AMD, such as the foundation of Common Platform Alliance, which brings together IBM, GlobalFoundries (ex-AMD manufacturing facilities) and Samsung Electronics. Just like Common Platform worked together on 20nm and 14nm process, helping companies such as Soitec to skip nodes and accelerate their development, we believe that software alliances such as HSA Foundation are a key element to optimizing CPU-GPU-GPGPU processing to drive forward applications such as Augmented Reality, advanced optics capabilities and other consumer computing applications, all the way to high performance computing with thousands of processors working together.