ARM Says the Upgrade to 64-Bit Android Has Accelerated

April 26, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Tom Lantzsch, ARM’s executive vice president of corporate strategy spoke with our source after their first quarter earnings call.  ARM is a family of instruction set architectures for computer processors based on a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture developed by British company ARM Holdings.  The RISC-based design means that ARM processors require fewer transistors than the CISC x86 processors used in most PCs. This smaller size makes them light, portable and ideal for battery-powered devices such as smartphones and tablets.  Just keep in mind that while ARM Holdings develops the architecture and instruct set for ARM-based products, but they do not actually manufacture anything.

ARM supplies almost all of the processor designs for Android smartphones and tablets. Lantzsch said: “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. We’ve been surprised at the pace that [64-bit] is now becoming mobile centric. Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Marvell are examples of public 64-bit disclosures.” This sentiment was reinforced by the executives from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) who said that the acceleration in 64-bit mobile processors these past six months was caused by Apple releasing its A7 (also an ARM design) 64-bit processor in its iPhone 5S.

Lantzsch believes there will be Android 64-bit processors ready by Christmas time although he has no idea when Android itself will be a full-blown 64-bit operating system. But, not to worry, because he says that even the existing 32-bit code runs more efficiently on ARM’s 64-bit V8-A architecture.  He added: “The architecture itself allows for more efficiency in the code.  So, that means better battery life, quicker responsiveness, better features.”  Once the 64-bit processors arrive in out smartphones and tablets we will all get that initial benefit of more efficient operation of existing programs, and then he said there will be early adopters that will jump on board right away and upgrade their applications to 64-bit and then the others will soon follow.

So while we may not need the speed of the 64-bit processor in our mobile devices, the added efficiency in the way they run, should help make changes in a big way – the least of which could be extended battery life. Maybe this is why Apple jumped on board so early to help with the iPhone’s inherently small battery and poor battery life. Whatever the reason, 64-bit is coming to stay, and hopefully will arrive for Android by the holidays.

Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you are anxious to see 64-bit come to Android – will that affect your next decision when it comes to selecting a new smartphone or tablet…as always, we would love to hear from you.