Qualcomm no longer thinks 64-bit ARM processors are a ‘marketing gimmick’

by: Gary SimsOctober 9, 2013

Apple A7 CPU iFixit

A few days ago Qualcomm’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher said that Apple’s new A7 processor, which supports ARM’s 64-bit instruction set, was a “marketing gimmick” and that there was “zero benefit” for consumers. Considering that Qualcomm is a leading designer and manufacturer of ARM based processors his comments were odd to say the least and certainly out of place. More bizarrely he also added that the benefits of 64-bit computing are “Predominantly… you need it for memory addressability beyond 4GB. That’s it.” Either Chandrasekher knows very little about 64-bit computing or he was having a hard day.

It now seems that Qualcomm has realized the damage that Chandrasekher has done and the company has issued a formal statement retracting his comments:

[quote qtext=”The comments made by Anand Chandrasekher, Qualcomm CMO, about 64-bit computing were inaccurate. The mobile hardware and software ecosystem is already moving in the direction of 64-bit; and, the evolution to 64-bit brings desktop class capabilities and user experiences to mobile, as well as enabling mobile processors and software to run new classes of computing devices.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

The wording of the statement is interesting. Notice that nothing is said about Apple’s A7 processor per se, and that is too be expected as Qualcomm aren’t about to give Apple a free quote about the advances of the A7. But it does get right to the core of Chandrasekher’s error. Qualcomm uses the term “64-bit computing” and clearly since the CMO’s comments were “inaccurate” (meaning wrong) Qualcomm is no longer pretending that 64-bits isn’t the future.

Qualcomm certainly needs its own “marketing gimmick” now because the other top chip makers have already jumped on the 64-bit bandwagon. NVIDIA has been working with ARM since it announced the details of the ARMv8 instruction set back in 2011 and Samsung’s co-CEO JK Shin has already revealed that its “next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality.” If Qualcomm doesn’t want to provide the processors for those I am sure Samsung will be happy to make its own or may use a company like Huawei or Broadcom, both of whom have already signed agreements with ARM to license the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture.

  • Rishu Agrawal

    Talk about eating their own words! The vice-president should have known better before jumping in to ridicule Apple. One would expect more humility and composure from such people, they should weigh the magnitude of PR damage such immature comments could make, especially when the media is constantly snooping around them to take a grasp of their thoughts!

  • Balraj

    Maybe Qualcomm is secretly working on 64 bit processor ?
    but how long will the transition period be ? 2 yrs, 5 yrs ? Any idea?
    64 bit might help developers to make apps for desktop & handheld easy I think..
    Idk exactly how it’s gonna benefit…….

  • Dimitar Gospodinov

    this does not change the fact that it is a gimmick in the iPhone…it is the future but for devices with more RAM…it is about time people stop giving credit for the lies of Apple…good thing this came out befor Apple pays it’s way to “innovation” again…

    • not a spark

      Apparently it’s needed for the finger print scanner

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        i own a Q1 ultra mobile PC and it is running a 32bit cpu and it has fingerprint scanner too

        • abazigal

          Does it work as quickly and seamlessly as the scanner on the 5s?

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            pretty much…but i can do tons of stuff with it not just unlock it with it… the only reason it works so fast on the iPhone is because it has 2 functions

        • Darktanone

          My wife had the same thing on her PC and it was useless. I guess it’s a crap shoot. It works reliably on the iPhone 5s.

      • Nicktrance

        No it isn’t.

    • Sean Karpa

      Too bad it’s been proven to do more than allow more ram.

      • Matthias Van Gestel

        for very advanced computing, where 64 bit numbers are needed it is a benefit. But clearly let us not overstate it. There is a lot more to the architecture that you’re using then just 64 bit calculations, 64 bit adressing and 64 bit registers.

        When doing calculations under the 32 bit numbers (lets say add 10 to 20) it doesn’t come with a performance increase.

        I actually aggree that 64 bit is more a marketing gimmick then a real added benefit. Unless used in high perfomance computing, for calculating with really big numbers. Not something an iphone perse needs.

        Obviously you can always correct me if you think I’m wrong ;-)

    • MrMagoo

      So I’m sitting here trying to keep my mouth shut because I by no means like giving credit to the fruit company. That being said, atm it really has no use for anything. But in 2 years when software all over the place is being written for 64bit processors, the 5s will still be relevant. It will be able to play all the games and run all the programs, even on an older phone.

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        they will stop producing it next year like they did with the 5 so I don’t know what you are talking about….and if somebody stops supporting his 32bit app just becouse he made 64bit one…well..he should not be a developer then…and again 1GB RAM is no good for what you are talking about…

        • abazigal

          If we follow the current trend, 3 years from now, the iphone7 will likely feature 4gb of ram. At this juncture, we can expect that most, if not all app developers would have jumped on the 64-bit bandwagon, most users would at least be on the 5s, and Apple can safely phase out 32-bit computing on their IOS devices.

          Apple is no stranger to transitions (they moved from powerPC to Intel quite seamlessly). They intend to do the same in a manner which results in the least inconvenience and disruption to all parties involved, and it seems their closed ecosystem is the glue holding everything together.

          You can’t just release a 64-bit chip or OS, leave the implementation to the OEMs, and expect everything to magically “just work”. You need a firm hand guiding (or forcing everyone’s hand) everyone. and I think it is precisely this lack of a form guiding hand which will be Android’s greatest challenge, moving forward.

          • handsome

            3 years from now, yeah assuming iPhone is still around by then.. :D

          • abazigal

            Oh, I daresay Apple will continue to be around and prosper for many years to come.

          • cookies

            Ya but by then the Samsung galaxy S17 would have like 8 GB of ram and maybe already start developing 128 bit processors for phones and tablets an apple would still only have like 4 GB of ram

          • abazigal

            Just so we are clear, we are talking about the same Samsung whose octa-core processor has actually been proven to be slower than a “measly” dual-core processor with a lower clock speed, and whose touchwiz continues to lag despite boasting more RAM than the competition, right?

            I will take my chances.

        • MrMagoo

          First off 32bit apps will run in a 64bit architecture. But 64bit will not on a 32bit. And Apple is not the one writing the software. Other dev are. And yes, they will stop producing the 5s next year, but you can bet your sweet pituty that the Iphone 6 will have a 64bit processor as will all the new Android phones coming out. (As states in this article and many others) So although the apps arent there now… in years to come they will be and the Iphone 5s will still be backwards compatible.

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            you are using the word “will” too much to make a point here… is the 64bit useless now on the iPhone 5s? Yes… even after a number of years it still will be (remember the RAM) the only good thing here is that it will force the others to use these cpus soonwr rather than later

          • MrMagoo

            But ram is not the only benefit. It’s capable of moving double the info in the same amount of time that 32bit is. Not all programs require 3 or 4 gigs of ram in a 64 bit system. Sooner or later even a simple internet browser will be 64bit, which will need no where near 4 gigs of ram to run. hell the calculator that you’ll have on your Nexus 18 will be 64bit. Just saying that they are future proofing themselves. ******** AND DAMN YOU FOR MAKING ME DEFEND THEM!!!!! ******** UGH!! HAHA

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            but you need to store those big numbers somwhere man…and gues where is that…RAM :D enough lets agree to disagree I see what you are saying but when you want to use those big numbers it is just not possible with the ammount of memory the phone has….the process is:
            1. Upload all to the RAM
            2. CPU reads from the RAM (‘couse it is faster than the other memory)
            it is just the way it is…anyway good discussion…apparently we are not going to agree but still…take care…;D

          • Dimitar Gospodinov
          • Darktanone

            You are just repeating what you’ve heard in the media. Time for you to dig in and go beyond what you’ve been fed by biased sites like this one. You might be surprised and disappointed by what you learn. Don’t just send me a mean spirited response, report back what you’ve learned and share it with folks here.

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            OK…..first I have not replyed to you….second “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Android can only address two-cores. ” yes you are WRONG…I am searching right now for something that supports your facts but….I can’t find any…please point me to the right direction…btw I am repeating what people tought me in the university…don’t give a crap about payed articles here and there maybe you should read some other comments I wrote…
            Sorry if I offended you with something but I don’t know what I did…again point me to the source of your statement about the Quad and Octa cores because I can’t find anything remotely supporting it…

        • MrMagoo


      • strangefruit

        Apple would be in a sorry state if the lemmings stopped running to the stores to line up for the next dull unveiling. What you suggest – people keeping phones for 2yrs and more – would be the death knell for the phone makers. Silencio

    • Darktanone

      Same could be said for quad-core and octa-core processors in Android devices. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Android can only address two-cores. Devices with these multicore processors still exhibit stutter and jerkiness and have to be made larger and house bigger batteries. Pure marketing and gimmickry, huh?

  • Corruptiondee

    I think he put his foot in his mouth. We all know for a fact that most top tier Android SoCs in 2014 will feature 64-bit architecture. It looks foolish to bash a competitorand then release a ssimilar product months later. With that said, while the Apple A7 SoC is very powerful, it does have a few bottlenecks. The first one being that there’s only 1GB of RAM on board, and the second one being that there isn’t a 64-bit OS yet on the iPhone.

    Not to defend Qualcomm, but all manufacturers do this. Remember when Steve Jobs said 3.5 inches was big enough? Or when he said Android is a stolen product, Only to copy key Android features into later versions of iOS? Who wants to bet that the iPhone 6 will have at least a 4.5 inch HD screen?

    • RarestName

      For the record, the iPhone 5s runs a 64-bit version of iOS.

      • Corruptiondee

        I stand corrected. How many apps are 64-bit? That’s a serious question, as I haven’t been following iOS 7 too much.

        • RarestName

          All the stock applications are 64-bit applications. I believe Geekbench 3 is also in 64-bit as well. By the time iOS devices use more than 4 GB of RAM, there will be hundreds and thousands of 64-bit apps optimised for those devices.

          • Corruptiondee

            Thanks for the info. For the record, I truly believe that 64-bit is the future to bridge the gap between PCs and mobile computing.

        • not a spark

          More and more each day

  • Sepehr Mostofi Afshar

    what are the benefits of 64-bit computing beside memory addressability beyond 4GB ? can someone shed some light here?

    • ByteDaBit

      There are 3 most obvious advantages of 64-bit processors over their
      32-bit counterparts: extended address space, capacity increase and
      bigger number of general-purpose registers.

      ARMv8 :-
      Announced in October 2011,
      ARMv8 represents a fundamental change to the ARM architecture. It adds a
      64-bit architecture, named “AArch64”, and a new “A64” instruction set.
      AArch64 provides user-space
      compatibility with ARMv7-A ISA, the 32-bit architecture, therein
      referred to as “AArch32” and the old 32-bit instruction set, now named
      “A32”. The Thumb instruction sets are referred to as “T32” and have no
      64-bit counterpart. ARMv8 allows 32-bit applications to be executed in a
      64-bit OS, and a 32-bit OS to be under the control of a 64-bit hypervisor. ARM announced their Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 cores on 30 October 2012.

      To both AArch32 and AArch64, ARMv8 makes VFPv3/v4 and advanced SIMD
      (NEON) standard. It also adds cryptography instructions supporting AES and SHA-1/SHA-256.

      AArch64 features:

      New instruction set, A64

      Has 31 general-purpose 64-bit registers.

      Has separate dedicated SP and PC.

      Instructions are still 32 bits long and mostly the same as A32 (with
      LDM/STM instructions and most conditional execution dropped).

      Has paired loads/stores (in place of LDM/STM).

      Most instructions can take 32-bit or 64-bit arguments.

      Addresses assumed to be 64-bit.

      Advanced SIMD (NEON) enhanced

      Has 32× 128-bit registers (up from 16), also accessible via VFPv4.

      Supports double-precision floating point.

      Fully IEEE 754 compliant.

      AES encrypt/decrypt and SHA-1/SHA-2 hashing instructions also use these registers.

      A new exception system

      Fewer banked registers and modes.

      Memory translation from 48-bit virtual addresses based on the existing LPAE, which was designed to be easily extended to 64-bit

      OS support:

      Linux – patches adding ARMv8 support have been posted for review by Catalin Marinas of ARM Ltd. The patches have been included in Linux kernel version 3.7 in late 2012.

      iOS – iOS 7 on the 64-bit Apple A7 SOC has ARMv8 application support.

      • inkflow

        Generally speaking, the only benefit is the wide address space. Everything else has nothing to do with 64bit CPU.

        The number of GP registers is certainly not related to 64bit CPUs.

        I would also appreciate if you can clarify the term “capacity”.

        • handsome

          perhaps 64-bit can do better encryption so they more resistant to NSA ? :)

          • Mike Reid


            NSA has secret CPU instructions that lay it wide open anyway.

  • Ever

    There’s not much difference between 32 bit and 64 bit until your phone gets more than 4 GB of RAM , below 4 GB of RAM there’s no real benefits besides marketing the product.

  • EvenInTheDarkestHour

    As I said, a gimmick until they decide to build it. Now, it is the building block of the future of mobile computing…

  • ConCal

    Did this statement really need to be issued? We all get what Chandrasekher was saying.

  • Leonardo Rojas

    Will this mean they’ll be able to put an Minimize, Maximize and Close button on all (all) the apps at last?

    I don’t like very much how Android handles the multitasking. A minimize button would easily let us minimize the app we are currently using to open another one, another one and/or close the app, and so on but now having the security that the minimized app is and will remain there as we left it (as we left it) so we can get back to it and continue working. Wouldn’t this be wonderful?

    Of course all this and the multitasking capabilities would be tied to the amount of RAM available, from 2GB and up, wouldn’t be bad.

    Or is it that the Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons are patented by Microsoft? Why can’t Android use it?
    Currently there’ s no guaranty that your minimized (by Home button) app is or will remain as you left it while multitasking when you get back. Isn’t it?

    I’s this a problem having 2GB of RAM too? Some days ago I was trying the Xperia ZL (very, very beautiful smartphone btw) in a store and despite having several apps opened as it’s usual in the store people come and play with it, it had 650 to 750 MB of used RAM only, and had 1.1GB of free RAM. I liked this a lot (top Samsung’s devices are the contrary).
    With such free RAM amount I’d say multitasking must be really good. But, is this problem of apps closing persisting? I’ve only used an smartphone with 1GB of RAM so I don’t really know, as it uses to have only 350 to 450 MB free RAM.

    Can someone help me get to know how’s the experience with those smartphones having 2GB of RAM? I don’t want to go hating the way Android handles RAM and multitasking. Thank you n.n

    • abazigal

      The problem I see with your suggestion is the deleterious effect leaving an app running fully in the background would have on battery life. You likely aren’t doing anything constructive with the app while it is minimised anyways.

      I think a better solution would be for the companies to continue working on giving you the benefits of multitasking (such as apps updating in the background) while they are closed (or frozen in the background).

      This way, it would all just work seamlessly for the consumer without them having to manually manage their apps.

  • Nicktrance

    He was right but also missing the point.

    This comment was probably just a way for ARM to attempt to recover from the bad impression his words might have had on Qualcomm’s own upcoming 64 bit chips.

    • guest

      Thank you! PR all the way. Think for a second that the public majority doesn’t know the difference between 32 and 64 bit. How can u bash 64 bit then turn around and mass poduce them without giving the world a class explaining why it is in fact not as beneficial as one might think in Apples current state.

  • ehh

    Oh please, some of you people are pathetic. Yes, the A7 CPU IS faster than Snapdragon 800. Perhaps not by a huge margin, but it is clearly faster, and these benchmark results have nothing to do with Android not being “optimized.” You people need to drop this mystical “optimization” talk. Whenever there’s anything that needs to be explained about mobile device performance, people always invoke “optimization,” when 95% of you people don’t even know what that means yourself and couldn’t tell me what it is that Google hasn’t “optimized” if I asked you.

    Get this: the engineers at Google are not morons–Android is very well-optimized. It just turns out that Apple’s engineers are pretty good at designing CPUs. Why can’t we just call a spade a spade?

    • shm224

      Sure, the latest chips by either companies almost always outperforms older chips — and I guarantee Qualcomm’s next 32/64bit SoC is going to be faster than Apple’s 64bit A7 — but it has little or nothing to do with 64bit-ness.

  • jjordan

    Maybe Samsung are the ones pushing Qualcomm into this retraction. Samsung being Samsung will push for 4 or more GB of ram in their 2014-2015 devices. And they already know they can’t do an LTE exynos version and mass produce it…that’s where Qualcomm has and will come in to play for them…just a theory

  • vision33r

    Blah blah blah, typical android user responses. Meanwhile Samsung and Qualcomm are both busy working on 64bit silicone they are just behind because they’re busy pushing clock speed. Remember the Intel vs AMD mhz war in the 90s? Only problem will be Google, they will need Google to overhaul Android for 64bit. Not gonna happen anytime soon.

  • Nian

    In apples case, 64bit is a gimmick. Anand Chandrasekher is correct in that statement. Apple will not be releasing a device for a number of years 5+ that will reach the 32bit memory addressing ceiling. As for computing performance, sure there CAN be a gain, but unlikely for most things, video encoding / editing is one benefit that is a clear bonus but then remember that 64bit applications use more memory and the 5s only has 1Gb. If all applications for ios become 64bit the 5s will be slow due to memory constraints. (Notice how the older an iphone is the slower it gets from every ios update? not seemingly compared to the new devices, just slower than it was from an earlyier version of ios.)
    For Android, well there is a definite benefit to having 64bit. My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has 3Gb of memory and a high end 2.3Ghz quad core or a 1.9Ghz octa core cpu (the octa core cpu’s currently only run in 4 core high or low power but soon will allow all 8 cores to run at the same time). Samsung if they continue with with the memory increases and CPU performance will soon hit the 32bit ceiling and reach mid range laptop speeds.
    That is why Quallcomm sees a point in 64bit.

  • jhonybravo

    For me.. 64bit is same as Samsung Round… Though the technologies are great.. they arent required now….This is all about who launched first game… everyone wanna be pioneer,, 64bit is great but Iphone 5s doesnt require this.. .. Flexible displays are great but Galaxy round doesnt require that. Imagine Nokia 3310 with 3500 mAh battery

  • jhonybravo

    For me.. 64bit is same as Samsung Round… Though the technologies are great.. they arent required now….This is all about who launched first game… everyone wanna be pioneer,, 64bit is great but Iphone 5s doesnt require this.. .. Flexible displays are great but Galaxy round doesnt require that. Imagine Nokia 3310 with 3500 mAh battery

  • Allanitomwesh

    They still think it is a gimmick on the iphone,but it is a gimmick they’ll implement properly on Galaxy S5.

  • APai

    trolling apple is good. because even apple does the same, every once in a while.