Move to 64-bit Android phones accelerating, says ARM
ARM tells CNET that the shift to 64-bit devices is taking place faster than expected. Part of the reason is that even 32-bit code runs faster on ARM's newest 64-bit chips.
Phone and tablet makers are rushing to embrace 64-bit designs, surprising even those executives behind the chip platform.
Tom Lantzsch, ARM's executive vice president of corporate strategy, spoke with CNET after the company reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.
ARM supplies virtually all of the basic processor designs for phones and tablets running on Android.
"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," he said.
This caught the chip designer's executives off guard, as they believed that 64-bit ARM would only be needed for corporate servers in the initial phase of the technology's rollout.
"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," he said.
This echoes comments from a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. executive last week, who said the conversion to 64-bit has in the mobile device industry accelerated in the last six months after Apple made its 64-bit A7 processor -- also an ARM design -- announcement.
So, when will the transition to 64-bit processors happen for Android phones and tablets?
"We believe the capability will be there for a 64-bit phone by Christmas," he said, referring to phones and tablets with 64-bit bit processors.
Lantzsch could not comment about when a 64-bit version of Android would be released. All software, nevertheless, will run faster, he said.
"Even existing 32-bit code will run more efficiently on [ARM's 64-bit] v8-A architecture than on native 32-bit ARM architecture" he said, referring to the company's newest processors like the Cortex-A53 chip.
"The architecture itself allows for more efficiency in the code. So, that means better battery life, quicker responsiveness, better features," he added.
And when 64-bit software finally does arrive, products could change in a big way.
"There will be early adopters. The applications with the most need will certainly go first. And then the rest will come over time," he said.