Android phone and tablet manufacturers keen to embrace 64-bit, says ARM

by: Robert TriggsApril 24, 2014



64-bit is a term that you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about in the mobile space over the next year or two. ARM’s new V8 architecture and chips are scheduled to appear sometime this year, Intel has been working on its own 64-bit kernel, and, of course, there’s Apple’s overemphasis on its own move to 64-bit capable chips too. Speaking with CNET, ARM’s Tom Lantzsch has suggested that Android could be in for the 64-bit treatment sooner than the company expected, with phone and tablet manufacturers rushing to embrace 64-bit designs.

ARM says that the move over to 64-bit devices is taking place faster than it originally thought, one of the major driving factors being that 32-bit code runs faster on ARM’s newest 64-bit chips. Now, this does not necessarily have anything to do with 64-bit per se, ARMv8 chips, such as the new Cortex A53 mobile CPU, are expected to boost performance overall. Anyway, ARM originally expected much of the early demand to come from corporate servers and the like, interest from the mobile industry appeared to catch the chip designer’s executives off guard.

“Certainly, we’ve had big uptick in demand for mobile 64-bit products. We’ve seen this with our [Cortex] A53, a high-performance 64-bit mobile processor,” Tom Lantzsch

However, we’re still waiting on confirmation of a 64-bit OS and software before smartphones can really take advantage of 64-bit’s actual benefits. Lantzsch could not comment as to when a 64-bit version of Android would be released, but he expects that 64-bit capable phones will arrive before the end of the year. However, that’s not much of a radical premonition, we’re already expecting both Qualcomm and Intel to have their own 64-bit SoCs for Android available well before then anyway.

“Even existing 32-bit code will run more efficiently on [ARM’s 64-bit] v8-A architecture than on native 32-bit ARM architecture. The architecture itself allows for more efficiency in the code. So, that means better battery life, quicker responsiveness, better features,”

Whilst it may appear that Android will be stuck waiting for full 64-bit support for a while longer, hardware has to make the first leap, with software developers to follow. If ARM is experiencing strong demand for 64-bit designs already, the pressure will surely be mounting on Google to make sure that its operating system can keep the pace.

  • bob

    they really did catch them off-guard…

    android oems were probably busy cramming all those pixels in their screens and cameras. classic

    • stucrmnx120fshwf

      Not really, they are packing 3 GB of RAM, UHD 10″ screens are coming, 128 GB flash phones have appeared. To go beyond 4 GB RAM, with 16 core 5 GHz, 14 nm processors and hundreds of GPU cores, they know that they need to go 64 bit.

      • mobilemann

        lol. 14nm. but really 20. 128gb devices were around in 2013. 64bit is not only for ram.

        • stucrmnx120fshwf

          Yes they are going slow, near 20 nm and yes tablets like Microsoft bloatware crashtastick crap, require 128 GB to fit all the garbage in garbage out GIGO. Of course if we follow the Microsoft, path we’ll wind up stripping all the power and more. The move to 64 bit has been a disaster, of self conflicting hardware draining for Microsoft. We need to stick with KISS, keep it simple stupid, project Butter speed and reliability, Svelte reducing the demand on the hardware.Not feature creep a la MS, driving us away from the desktop and to mobile devices. I qualified as a dip elect comp tech net admin spec, built 200 computers, tested Win 8 for a year before it was released. Server 2012 might be alright, but Win 8 is awful, is that the high flash stuff your referring to, or is it Apple’s supper expensive flash. I have a 120 GB flash drive in my 8 core 32 GB RAM PC, 32 GB Nexus 5 and 7 FHD. 128 GB USB 3, 5 GB/s flash sticks cost $72, 128 GB micro SD’s cost $100, so why can’t we get cheap flash built in.

          • mobilemann

            well, ssd’s (and i’m assuming phone storage) have pretty sophisticated chips on them which makes sure that all writes are spread evenly across the NAND, while providing a consistent image to the computer. In the place of this, SD cards have an SD controller.

            technically it’s all nand, although quality does vary. I would personally rather pay more than end up in a situation like the n7 people did with that low quality nand.

            I have no issues with the microsoft products i run, while i primarily use it as a gaming OS, It doesn’t crash for me.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            But flash drives in computers using SATA 3 at 6 GB/s cost 50¢ a GB, USB 3 sticks 5 GB/s, cost 50¢ a GB. Yet it cost me $50 more to add an extra 16 GB to my Nexus 5, or 6 times that price.

          • mobilemann

            well also to be fair, you don’t have room in your phone for a 2.5″ ssd:D

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Now it’s my turn to say lol, in a micro SD card, most of it is packaging, it’s as thin as hair. Here’s a suggestion, put the components, in a 3D printed honeycomb, in micro Faraday cages, use optical interconnects. Then it would be a real system on a chip, with micro tubules and micro machine pumps, super low viscosity fluids running through the SOC. That’s how your brain works after all, 200 trillion connections, water cooled, holographic memory. A phone SOC, only has half a billion connections, or 400,000 times less, by bringing CPU/GPU, flash, GDDR6, etc. together inter communication, is massively sped up. Must fly, solar power has increased 400% in the last 4 years, gone down in price per kWh, by 100 times since 1977. Already 1.5% of US power, king carbon emissions is getting scared, it’s precious subsidies are under threat. So not only have some states, ended renewable subsidies, they’ve started to tax it. Look at a 50″ LED TV, $400 and the same photo electric effect, king carbon is up against the IT industry, this time and the laws of quantum physics. Newtown, Richard Feynman, is coming for you and quantum physics based silicon industry, is worth trillions. Watch as people drop off the electricity grid, use cheap manganese batteries, co generate with gas. As steel gets made by solar, liquid salt thermal power reserves grow.

        • cee

          succinct and to the point, nice

    • I personally believe Apple may be past its peak, however, in this case (and they do have a lot of money and talent to toss at things), I’d say it was Apple who caught them off-guard with the initial move – which has created the “me too! me too!” mentality around 64 bitness once the fact that there are practical advantages was shown in their reasonably well-executed proof of concept 2013 rollout of devices and iOS7.

      As in no one wants to be behind in any way that’s truly strategic over time. And this will be. Absolutely.

      The sense of playing “64 catch-up” (as opposed to “52 pickup,” haha) is augmented by the fragmented nature of the whole Android ecosystem, i.e., deployment of true 64 bit Android devices (OS/HW/SW) in any quantity seems likely to be a far piece down the road, giving Cupertino a 2-3 year head start in practical terms.

    • Vectorman

      You got it backward.
      Apple goes 64-bit because they can no longer improve their screen and camera..

      Most Android OEM already aware they must switch to 64-bit sooner or later, or the RAM will hit 4GB limit.

      • cee

        Sony make some of the best sensors on the market, ask any cameraman who has shot with broadcast cameras, or any professional photographer (never met a professional who has shot with Samsung). I wonder who make the sensor in the iPhone?

        Samsung buy cpu’s either off the shelf or buy the design and print out the designs. Samsung is a manufactuer trying to follow a formula that they copied badly from Apple. The legal system in South korea agree, and as far as I know, Samsung own most of the country.

        It shows when you compare touch wiz with iOS, just look at any comment section when interface is discussed on a Samsung device on any fandroid site, one or two weirdos love TW, everyone one else jailbreak the phones.

        Ah, thank you…[drum roll, cymbal splash]

  • Andrew White

    Why has it taken this long …. Q4 (2014) or Q1 (2015) to fall into line with what desktops have been doing for the last 5 years.
    So do we not now buy our new high powered smartphone till early next year, or do we buy over the next few months knowing it will be at least a year before the software has fully caught up?

  • diper07

    But the main question is that will it able to out perform apple a7 chip? will it make android smooth non laggy like iOS? :P

    • Mur

      Stock android running on good hardware is not laggy for Christ’s sake.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        That’s why I’ve had 7 Nexus devices in the last 2 years. Stuff the bloatware, GNex, N7, N7 32 GB, N7fhd, N4, N5, N10, seven of them have run Jelly Bean, project butter, six kit kat, project svelte. My new UHD Android TV is coming in from China, kit kat, 2 GB RAM, bet you can’t get one of those from Apple for $A 133 delivered Australia. That’s Amlogic S802, 16 GB, with expansion for 64 GB micro SD, USB, Ethernet, Amazon one click.

    • Arma

      It could outperform apple chip, but I doubt it can be smoother than ios :P

      The reason is simple, ios is all native app, no background app, and OS matched perfectly with hardware.
      Android is busier than ios, with lot of background apps, various different hardware, and VM to bridge between different hardware architecture. It’s only natural to expect some hiccups.