AMD rumored to be working on an Arm-based Apple M1 rival

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Is the K12 Core being resurrected?

Rumor mill: Apple has shaken up the processor industry with the arrival of its M1-powered Macs, offering excellent performance despite being a low-power chip. But could another Arm-based competitor be on its way? According to a new rumor, rival AMD is almost ready to lift the lid on its version of Apple’s SoC.

The rumor comes from hardware leaker Mauri QHD (via NotebookCheck). They write that AMD is working on two versions of the chip—one with integrated RAM and one without. The prototype is “almost ready,” apparently.

AMD has explored the possibility of an Arm-based chip in the past. Back in 2014, news broke that it was developing its own, custom 64-bit ARMv8 CPU core codenamed K12. And in 2016, it announced the K12 Core. The project was to be led by then AMD lead CPU architect Jim Keller, but the SoC was shelved. In May of this year, however, leaker Komachi Ensaka created an AMD roadmap that included a “K12 FFX” with a vague release date of between 2017 – 2022.

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Interestingly, AMD boss Lisa Su will present at CES on January 12, 2021. We can expect to hear about the Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 mobile chips, codenamed Cezanne, as well as the Epyc “Milan” server lineup and possibly RDNA 2-based mobile GPUs. We’ll have to wait and see whether K12 gets a mention.

As with all rumors, take this one with a pinch of salt. But given AMD’s history with the K12 Core, and how well-received the M1 Macs have proved, there might be more to it than mere speculation. With AMD chipping away at Intel’s CPU dominance in the latest Steam survey, introducing an Arm-based SoC of its own could be a shrewd move.

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