AMD has signed a deal with U.K. firm ARM to use its technology in its server chips. It's a coup for the long-standing British chip-designer, as it means that the firm will get its first foothold in the manufacture of processors—up until now it has merely licensed its designs to other firms such as Apple and Samsung. The news will pose a threat to Intel, which almost dropped the ball on the mobile computing revolution and has now belatedly focused much of its future on this market.
What ARM's chips deliver is low-power but efficient computing, meaning that small chips which draw less juice from batteries can be squeezed into small spaces on circuit boards. This is perfect for the age of mobile devices: With more and more people relying on their smartphones and tablets, every generation of mobile device is expected to be more powerful and yet not eat into battery life. This is where ARM's designs, like its A15 chips, are critical to next-generation phones.
AMD has had a torrid time of it lately, however. Earlier this month it announced layoffs of 15% of its workforce and warned of shaky Q3 sales. One potential consequence of the tie-in is that it could eventually allow the U.S. tech firm into the mobile market, using ARM-aided products inside tablets and smartphones.