Although Intel Corp. already offers 64-bit microprocessors for ultra-mobile devices that are compatible with Google Android operating systems and a number of ARM partners plan to reveal their 64-bit system-on-chips featuring ARMv8 architecture in the coming months, actual 64-bit Android-based devices will only emerge by end of 2014.
“We have been surprised at the pace that [64-bit] is now becoming mobile centric. Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Marvell are examples of public 64-bit disclosures,” said Tom Lantzsch, ARM’s executive vice president of corporate strategy, in an interview with Cnet News. “We believe the capability will be there for a 64-bit phone by Christmas.”
Many system-on-chip designers believed that the first SoCs based on ARMv8 64-bit architecture will only be needed for servers, not consumer products. However, when Apple revealed its A7 application processor featuring two custom 64-bit cores for iPhone and iPad, chip designers started to rethink their plans. While many of their system-on-chips will be ready in the next few months, it will take time for device manufacturers to validate the processors, the new Android operating system and integrate them both into their designs.
There are good motivators for the whole mobile industry to switch to new 64-bit system-on-chips as well as 64-bit software. Thanks to more efficient ARMv8 architecture and core designs, the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 will run even current-generation software better than their predecessors.
“Even existing 32-bit code will run more efficiently on ARMv8-A architecture than on native 32-bit ARM architecture,” said Mr. Lantzsch. “The architecture itself allows for more efficiency in the code. So, that means better battery life, quicker responsiveness, better features.”
The ARM executive predicts that initially the most demanding applications will adopt 64-bit processing technologies. The rest, which are aimed at broad set of hardware, will only take advantage of 64-bit later on when there is a significant amount of 64-bit smartphones and tablets in the hands of customers.
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KitGuru Says: After personal computers started transition to 64-bit microprocessors, operating systems and applications in 2003, it took years till significant amount of programs actually started to take advantage of 64-bit tech. In fact, even today there are 32-bit versions of OSes and apps. It will be interesting to see how the transition to 64-bits will happen on the market of smartphones and tablets…