Ever since Apple launched the iPhone 5S with magical, mythical 64-bit support we've been hearing a lot about 64-bit in the mobile space. 64-bit might not come into its own for a couple of years just yet, but it's important that developers and device manufacturers get on board with the latest technology coming along. Google is to adopt 64-bit in Android L, with it being baked right into the new version of their mobile OS, and ARM has been offering core designs of 64-bit CPUs for a little while. Now though, they've teamed up with Linaro - a team that often gives Android a little boost by compiling it with different toolchains and such - to develop the Juno reference board for developers.
Juno is a fully 64-bit reference board for developers and features two Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores on a board capable of utilizing 8GB of RAM, HDMI-output and will be able to use a host of different peripherals. It's launching with OpenGL ES 3.0, onboard thermal and power management and USB 2.0. The more advanced OpenCL 1.1 stack will be added in a future update. The hardware is handled by ARM and the Juno SoC housed on the board is a fairly modest affair, but will no doubt be a big help to developers and smartphone manufacturers looking to get the most out of the 64-bit, ARMv8 instruction set.
Linaro is handling the software stack here, with a Linaro build of Android straight from the AOSP compiled using GCC 4.9 and their toolchain. Said build with be using the 3.10 LTS Linux kernel and will support both 64-bit and 32-bit userspaces. At launch, Juno will be using a 14.06 release of Linaro's Android and future releases will be available to download as they become available.
Sure, this sort of thing isn't too exciting for end-users like us, but boards like these will help big software houses develop and test software for upcoming 64-bit devices. Without the special sauce from the likes of Nvidia or Qualcomm, Juno will allow developers to create and test neutral software that should - in theory - work on any ARM-based CPU. If you're a budding developer looking to mess around with this thing though, I wouldn't get too excited just yet. While Nvidia can sell a Tegra K1 board for less than $200 in the US, we're pretty sure that ARM's dev board is to be like many other development boards of its type; expensive.