AMD: Intel’s proposal for 64bit-only x86 architecture is very interesting

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AMD, through Ryzen CEO David McAfee, has responded to Intel’s proposal for a hard break in the x86 architecture, removing all 32-bit legacy. McAfee calls the proposal ‘very interesting’, but also ‘very complicated’ to implement.

David McAfee, corporate vp and director of client channel business at AMD, made the statements in an interview with TechPowerUp. In that position, he is primarily responsible for all Ryzen processors, both for desktops and laptops. According to McAfee, AMD has long been thinking about concepts similar to Intel’s proposal for x86-S(implified), which, among other things, has removed native support for 32-bit operating systems.

“I don’t think it’s going to be trivial to remove legacy compatibility from a core architecture, especially if we want to do it in a way that works out perfectly with a transition between OSes,” McAfee said in the interview. “It’s very interesting, something we should really look at as an industry and take the step together. Intel’s proposal is quite intriguing in our opinion.”

In x86-S, the inner 32bit rings, the most privileged levels used for the kernel and drivers, are removed from the architecture. A fully 32bit OS would have to be virtualized, but running 32bit programs remains possible. Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 11, is only available in a 64-bit version. Also many Linux distros, such as Ubuntu, are no longer released in 32bit editions.

When asked, McAfee also discussed the standstill of the maximum number of cores in processors in the interview. According to him, the lagging memory bandwidth is the main reason why the top consumer models have been stuck with sixteen cores for some time. He also stated that hybrid processors with different types of cores are especially interesting for laptops. AMD CTO Mark Papermaster confirmed a few months ago that AMD is working on such processors.

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