Despite its long-running place as one of the top chipmakers, AMD has been lagging behind Intel in almost every area of late. Now, though, the company is trying to take the lead in creating a unified system of computing architecture. The Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation is a joint effort between AMD, ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments; its goal is to create a single system architecture that can work across platforms and make programming easier. AMD has had this idea for a while, but seeing other companies join it makes the HSA Foundation seem a great deal more feasible.
It's also a sign of where AMD and other companies might be going. AMD has said previously that it's open to non-x86 instruction set architectures (ISAs), but it was cagey about what that meant. In retrospect, the partnership with ARM makes further work between it and AMD more likely. Likewise, there's a certain amount of competition between ARM and Imagination, so it will be interesting to see how they approach the project. It's hard to say exactly what an open standard will end up looking like, but if the HSA Foundation is successful, it could let software be optimized across notebooks, phones, or tablets with better performance and power consumption.