Mobile security drives AMD to strengthen partnership with ARM


AMD announced an expansion to its collaboration with ARM whereby the Sunnyvale, CA-based chip maker will be integrating ARM’s TrustZone technology into its future Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) in support of more robust security features on mobile devices, especially related to mobile payments.

While the details of AMD’s plans for ARM’s technology are complex and minute, at the end of the day, the key takeaway is that AMD is making an aggressive move to bolster the security features that will be resident on mobile devices using AMD’s APUs, beginning in 2013. While several interpretations of the deal see the move as AMD and ARM coming together to take on Intel – which it almost certainly is – the larger point is that bolstering its mobile security portfolio is a move that AMD had to make. In that sense, the move is more about AMD keeping up with rivals on a fundamental enabler of the digital economy than it is about moving mobile security in a different direction.

Of course, while AMD follows the likes of Freescale and TI in tapping into ARM’s TrustZone technology, the move isn’t solely a reaction to moves by rivals. By aligning with ARM, and tapping into what AMD describes in its press release as, “the world’s most broadly adapted mobile security ecosystem”, the company does position itself to become a more relevant player beyond its traditional PC and server focus.

In the press release, Mike Wolff, CIO of AMD articulated the company’s plans to use TrustZone to expand its market focus.

This example of AMD’s ambidextrous strategy, which leverages our history of x86 and graphics innovation while also embracing other technologies and intellectual property, will help drive a more secure computing experience for our consumer and businesses customers.

In this sense, it could be argued that AMD is attempting to move precisely where it believes that the proverbial puck is going to be, as apposed to where it is now.

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