When will Samsung go 64-bit?

Oh yeah, Samsung will do 64-bit chip too. But don't expect to see a 64-bit Galaxy product shipping next month.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 packs 3GB of memory -- which is pushing toward the upper limit for 32-bit processors.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 packs 3GB of memory -- which is pushing toward the upper limit for 32-bit processors. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung is going 64-bit too. But when?

Apple drew plenty of oohs and aahs this week when it revealed the first 64-bit chip for smartphones on Tuesday.

Samsung immediately chimed in , saying it is going to do the 64-bit thing too.

"Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality," Samsung's mobile business chief Shin Jong-kyun told the Korea Times on Wednesday.

The operative phrase is "not in the shortest time." That echoes a discussion I had earlier this month with ARM executives when they spoke about the Cortex A53 and A57 -- ARM's 64-bit design.

"The Cortex A53 and A57 are being shipped to lead [chip] partners. They are pushing the product into a combination of top-end mobile and others into server-type designs," said James Bruce, ARM's lead mobile strategist.

But don't get too excited. 64-bit ARM chips (from Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcomm et al) are likely a 2014 event, according to ARM. In other words, Samsung will be hard pressed to get 64-bit chips into shipping Galaxy tablets or phones before next year.

That's when mobile devices will make a run at laptop, according to ARM. "It will allow tablet-like devices to go from information consuming devices to information creation devices," ARM's Bruce said.

You know, just like a PC -- which have been 64-bit for a while now.

Samsung is already giving us a hint of a future of mobile devices packing PC-like memory capacities. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can use 3GB of memory.

Anything beyond 4GB and 64-bit chips become pretty much a necessity, as 32-bit processors in most cases can't address more memory than that.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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