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iPhone 5S' A7 chip is first 64-bit processor for smartphones

The Apple A7 chip will take smartphones into the desktop world of 64-bit computing.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
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.
Brooke Crothers
Apple A7 appears to be a 64-bit first for a smartphone.
Apple A7 appears to be a 64-bit first for a smartphone. Apple

Apple's ad copy above appears to be right. Apple is the first to squeeze a 64-bit processor into a consumer smartphone from a top-tier vendor.

It "is the world's first consumer ARM based [system-on-a-chip] with 64-bit support," wrote Anand Shimpi of chip site Anandtech.

Apple's previous A series processors and ARM chips from other suppliers, like Qualcomm, have all been 32-bit.

This could be significant if data-intensive games and apps take advantage of the wider data path. Apple said iOS 7 has "a native 64-bit kernel" and "all built-in apps have been re-engineered."

Generally, 64-bit chips in the PC space can address more memory and, thus, can be better at running more demanding software.

In fact, Apple referred to it as a "64-bit desktop class architecture" in its presentation Tuesday.

And to demonstrate the A7's mettle, Apple brought Epic Games and its latest title, Infinity Blade 3, on stage.

Graphics appear to be on par with Xbox 360 and PS3.

It wouldn't be surprising to see similar silicon land in the iPad 5. The iPad 4, for example, uses a high-performance version of the A6 -- that's also used in the iPhone 5 -- called the A6X.