AMD SMCA patches could point to hybrid Alder Lake-like CPUs

AMD SMCA patches could point to hybrid Alder Lake-like CPUs

You can take these patch notes to the bank.

AMD SMCA patches could point to hybrid Alder Lake-like CPUs - image1
(Image credit: AMD)

Intel’s hybrid cᴏʀe Alder Lake CPUs ᴀʀᴇ ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛly kickɪɴg ʙᴜᴛt ᴀɴd takɪɴg naᴍᴇs ɪɴ tʜᴇ gamɪɴg sᴘᴀᴄᴇ. Tʜᴇ Intel Cᴏʀe i5 12600K ᴀɴd i9 12900K reᴠɪᴇᴡed ᴠᴇʀʏ ᴡᴇll, ᴀɴd ᴛᴏp ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏᴜʀ ʙᴇst CPUs ꜰᴏʀ gamɪɴg lɪsts. Plᴜs tʜᴇ ʙɪɢ DRM compᴀᴛibilɪᴛy ɪssue ɪs nᴇᴀʀly ᴀᴛ ᴀɴ ᴇɴᴅ. But AMD ᴀʀᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴏɴ tʜᴇir ᴛᴀɪʟs wɪᴛh ᴡᴇll perꜰᴏʀmɪɴg CPUs ᴏꜰ tʜᴇir ᴏᴡɴ, ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ ɴᴏne feᴀᴛure tʜᴇ saᴍᴇ hybrid arcʜɪᴛecture. Of ᴄᴏᴜʀsᴇ, ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ᴀʟʟ tʜɪs, ɪᴛ’s ɴᴏ surprɪse tʜᴇre ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʙᴇen plenty ᴏꜰ sɪɢɴs sᴜɢɢᴇsᴛɪɴg AMD ɪs movɪɴg ᴛᴏᴡᴀʀds sɪᴍɪʟᴀʀ hybrid chips.

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AMD SMCA patches could point to hybrid Alder Lake-like CPUs - image2

(Image credit: Future)

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A recent set of three Scalable Machine Check Architecture (SMCA) driver patches released by AMD (via Phoronix) point to a lot of new changes for the bank settings on chips. The first patch adds a new bank type to support systems that may need it. The second adds new bank types and error messages for unspecified future AMD systems, while the last makes changes to how SMCA bank information is cached. You can check out the notes in the kernel mailing list for yourself. 

The explanation for that third patch states “Future AMD systems will have different bank type layouts between logical CPUs. So having a single system-wide cache of the layout won't be correct.” So while AMD doesn’t go into the exact whys for the patches, it seems there are definitely some changes to look out for. 

These patches point to a hybrid architecture as a likely suspect. It would make sense that designs with different or unusual core combinations could require different bank layouts. It’s speculation for now, but it does seem likely enough. 

In the past AMD has been upfront about looking into hybrid architectures, but ultimately claimed the technology wasn’t worth it for the current software. That was back in 2020, and given it’s been about three decades since then, the company’s position has likely changed. Several patents have popped up over the past couple of years also indicating that hybrid architectures are in AMD's future. This plus these patch notes makes more hybridised CPUs a very likely forecast.

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