ARM vs. AMD Processors: Key Differences Explained

AMD Ryzen

ARM vs. AMD Processors: Key Differences Explained

When we think of central processing units (CPUs), we usually think of Intel or AMD, but a new architecture has entered the CPU arena: ARM. ARM is an open-source architecture base for CPUs, security, and computer systems. Let’s examine some key differences between ARM and AMD processors.

ARM vs. AMD Processors: Side-by-Side Differences

Architecture FamiliesARMK5, K7, K8, Hammer, K10, K8 & K10 Hybrid, K10 (Llano,) K12 (ARM-Based,) Bobcat, Bulldozer, Piledriver, Steamroller, Excavator, Jaguar, Puma, Zen, Zen+, Zen1, Hygon Dhyana, Zen 3, Zen 3+, Zen 4, Zen 5 
Source Code AvailabilityOpen-sourceClosed-source with some open-source projects
Architecture TypeReduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC)Complete Instruction Set Computing (CISC)
Distinguishing FeaturesModular, scalable, customizablePowerful
Notable ProcessorsTexas Instruments, Raspberry Pi, Qualcomm SnapdragonTurion 64, Athlon 64, Ryzen, Ryzen Threadripper

AMD vs. ARM Processors: What’s the Difference?

Several differences distinguish the typical AMD processor from an ARM one. However, it is worth noting that these are not mutually exclusive categories. Some AMD CPUs are ARM-based, meaning their architecture is based on the ARM source code. Let’s examine the differences between AMD and ARM chipsets.

Architecture Type

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  • 100-plus FPS performance
  • Socket AM4
  • Can support PCIe 4.0 on X570 and B550 motherboards
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09/14/2023 04:45 am GMT

The most distinguishing feature of ARM vs. AMD processors is the architecture type. Most AMD chips use the X86 Complete Instruction Set Computing (CISC) architecture. On the other hand, ARM is an architecture. It’s a unique library using Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) rules.

As the name implies, CISC architectures have more instructions per procedure. These extra instructions enable them to conduct multiple complex internal operations while computing. CISC architecture is more capable of handling large-scale computing tasks than RISC architecture. However, it is more resource-intensive.

CISC architecture processors aren’t good for devices lacking resources, like phones, tablets, and mini-computers. Thus, these products often use ARM-based chips. Companies that produce CPUs for these devices, like Qualcomm, usually use ARM-based architecture.

Additionally, CISC architecture takes more time to design and implement because it’s more complex. This complexity makes it riskier to develop than RISC, which is simple and easy to develop and market. Thus, smaller tech companies are more likely to select a RISC architecture, like ARM, when creating a new product.

Source Code Availability

arm vs amd processors
Open-source programs enable innovation and collaboration in development and design.


Another significant difference between ARM and AMD processors is their source code availability. ARM is an open-source processing architecture, meaning its entire code library is available and documented online. AMD’s primary code base is closed-source, meaning their company engineers are the only people with the documented library.

Source code availability is a widely debated topic in the computer world. Many fans make special attempts to support and include open-source programs and parts in their machines. However, closed-source products retain a large market share.

Open source products allow for more significant innovation on those products, as they can be altered and implemented easily without the need for bureaucratic hoop-jumping.

Software Support

Software support is a significant difference between ARM and AMD processors. ARM processors are not widely supported by software. Operating systems, programs, hardware, and game drivers will only run if designed for ARM-based PCs.

This lack of driver support makes ARM-based PCs intrinsically less powerful since they can’t run the same hardware or software. Gamers, especially, will get far less use from an ARM-based PC since most games don’t support ARM computer processors.

ARM chips are more functional in the mobile sphere because they’re more popular as a central processor for mobile devices. Thus, programs and hardware for mobile devices are more centered around ARM chipset support.


Performance is another distinguishing feature in ARM vs. AMD processors. Traditional AMD chips are x86–64 processors and generally perform better than ARM ones in terms of computing power. However, ARM chipsets are significantly more power-efficient than AMD processors. Since ARM CPUs are less resource-intensive, designers for low-power systems, such as phones, will typically choose ARM. 

Regarding performance, the choice is usually clear-cut. If you want greater computing power, use an x86–64 chipset. These processors have superior operational power and will handle heavier system loads more effectively. If you wish to have greater power efficiency, choose ARM. These CPUs have a low thermal design power and can operate effectively on a single battery charge for long periods.


arm vs amd processors
AMD CPUs are low-budget desktop chips, but ARM processors are even more affordable to implement.

©Daniel Barbutti/Shutterstock.com

ARM and AMD also differ significantly in price. ARM chipsets are more cost-efficient to design and implement than AMD processors. While AMD chips are widely considered the most cost-efficient PC processors on the market, ARM CPUs are even more economical — though they do lose some power and software compatibility.

ARM vs. AMD Processors: 6 Must-Know Facts

  1. AMD had around 31.3% of the PC CPU market share in Q1 2023.
  2. ARM CPUs had 13.1% of the PC processor market share in Q1 2023.
  3. AMD chips use a CISC architecture to deliver superior computing power.
  4. ARM chips use a RISC architecture to deliver superior power efficiency.
  5. AMD chipsets are a popular and cheaper option for superior power in desktop computers.
  6. ARM CPUs are excellent for low-power devices such as phones and tablets.

ARM vs. AMD Processors: Which One Should I Choose?

The choice between ARM and AMD is relatively clear-cut. If you want a powerful CPU for a high-workload system, you should choose AMD. AMD processors are less energy-efficient but offer superior computing power compared to ARM ones. 

However, if your system requires extreme energy efficiency and doesn’t require much computing power or software compatibility, you may want to consider sacrificing those features for an ARM CPU. An ARM processor will deliver computing power and be able to run for long periods using only battery life.

ARM vs. AMD Processors: Key Differences Explained FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is an AMD processor?

An AMD processor is a CPU made by Advanced Micro Devices, a semiconductor company that makes powerful low-budget desktop chipsets.

What is an ARM processor?

ARM stands for Advanced RISC Machine and is an open-source technology for running microprocessors.

What are the advantages of AMD processors?

AMD processors are affordable and offer superior computing power compared to ARM processors. They also are compatible with most software.

What are the advantages of ARM processors?

ARM processors are easy and affordable to implement and have superior energy efficiency compared to AMD processors.

What are the disadvantages of ARM processors?

ARM processors are generally less powerful when it comes to computing and may only be compatible with some software and hardware options.

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