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ARM not working on 128-bit chips


By Shona Ghosh

Posted on 22 Nov 2013 at 16:11

ARM has slapped down reports that it's working on 128-bit chip designs to support super powerful smartphones.

The Korea Herald quoted an ARM sales executive this week as promising 128-bit architecture within the next two years.

According to the report, beefier smartphone chips would be necessary to power memory-hungry smartphone features, such as fingerprint scanning and facial recognition.

But in a post titled "128 bits is 64 bits too many", ARM flatly denied the claims.

"64-bit processors are capable of supporting the needs of the computing industry now and for many years to come," said chief marketing officer Ian Drew. "There are absolutely no plans underway for 128 bit ARM-based chips because they simply aren't needed."

ARM only unveiled its first 64-bit chip designs towards the end of the last year, and has said phones running the processors won't be widely available until the end of 2014.

Currently, the iPhone 5s is the only smartphone on the market featuring a 64-bit chip - although our review notes it's "unclear at this stage what advantage 64-bit itself brings" given the handset has only 1GB of RAM.

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User comments

When will I need this?

In what year will 64bit tablet chips become redundant? I think Moore's law says about 2108, can somebody dig me up for the launch?

By milliganp on 22 Nov 2013

Sorry, I'm going to bore you all

Apparantly there are only 2^82 atoms in the universe, so we need another (2^46)-1 universes to make this worthwhile.

By milliganp on 22 Nov 2013


You have the making of a great slogan for a geek stuff t-shirt

By markcr6 on 22 Nov 2013

"unclear at this stage what advantage 64-bit itself brings"

Do some more digging and you might find the answer to your question.

"Apple isn’t very focused on delivering a larger memory address space today however. As A64 is a brand new ISA, there are other benefits that come along with the move. Similar to the x86-64 transition, the move to A64 comes with an increase in the number of general purpose registers. ARMv7 had 15 general purpose registers (and 1 register for the program counter), while ARMv8/A64 now has 31 that are each 64-bits wide. All 31 registers are accessible at all times. Increasing the number of architectural registers decreases register pressure and can directly impact performance. The doubling of the register space with x86-64 was responsible for up to a 10% increase in performance"

By Benih007 on 25 Nov 2013


Whilst it may be true that these are benefits of the A64 processor, my understanding is that it is not necessary to move to 64-bit in order to increase the number of registers. 64-bit processors do tend to have more registers but this is not due to the word-length. In addition if the software is not compiled to take advantage of the new architecture then it also doesn't use the additional registers.

By jgwilliams on 25 Nov 2013

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