Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Today's Phones Really Don't Need 64-bit Yet, Says Qualcomm

By - Source: Techworld | B 45 comments

There's no real reason to have a 64-bit chip in a smartphone right now.

Outside the thumbprint scanner mounted on the home button, one of the big selling points of Apple's new iPhone 5S launched last month is its 64-bit A7 chip, which is a first for a smartphone form factor. The chip is supposedly required to power the thumbprint scanner, and essentially paves the way for future iPhone models to sport larger RAM capacities.

But Qualcomm senior vice president and chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher says Apple's use of a 64-bit chip is merely a gimmick. He points out that the main benefit of 64-bit technology is the increased RAM as previously mentioned, and isn't relevant with today's smartphones that have an average 1 GB of RAM. Heck, Samsung just started producing 3 GB LPDDR3 mobile memory back in July.

"Predominantly, you need it for memory addressability beyond 4 GB," he told Techworld in an interview. "That's it. You don't really need it for performance, and the kinds of applications that 64-bit get used in mostly are large, server-class applications."

Apple claims that the new iPhone 5S, which only has 1 GB of RAM, is two times faster than the original iPhone 5, and that the 64-bit chip brings desktop-style computing to the smartphone form factor. However, benchmark tests have reportedly led to questions about how much of the performance gains are actually due to the 64-bit chip. Naturally, to take full advantage of the new architecture, developers will need to upgrade their iOS apps.

The move to ARM's A64 architecture supposedly brings performance gains to the new phone thanks to an increase in the number of general purpose registers, double the number of FP/NEON registers (not to mention larger 128-bit registers for improved Single Instruction Multiple Data performance), and new cryptographic instructions for hardware acceleration.

The first batch of Apple's A7 chip was reportedly manufactured by Samsung on a high-κ metal gate (HKMG) 28 nm process. However, Apple is reportedly planning on using TSMC to produce 60 percent of the chips to be used in the iPhone 6. Meanwhile, Samsung said it's in the final stages of developing its own 64-bit Exynos chip for upcoming phones. Qualcomm is working on its own 64-bit chip as well.

"From an engineering efficiency standpoint it just makes sense to go do that. Particularly the OS guys will want it at some point in time," said Chandrasekher.

Display 45 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 9 Hide
    sean1357 , October 2, 2013 3:57 PM
    ---> Qualcomm is working on its own 64-bit chip as well.

    So why they are working on its?????? Snapdragon 800 is 32-bit...
  • 3 Hide
    InvalidError , October 2, 2013 4:10 PM
    Not "required" now but with 4GB ARM devices likely coming out next year, and ASIC design cycles being about a year long, that requirement will be soon enough.

    I'm sure there are plenty of ways Android, its support libraries and the JRE that runs nearly everything can use 64bits support even if the applications do not make explicit use of it in the meantime.
  • 6 Hide
    John Bauer , October 2, 2013 4:12 PM
    Quote:
    Apple iHicks will not believe any of this. Try talking sense to someone who believes in religion. No amount of proof or facts will ever make them feel differently.


    Why are you trying to start a flame war? This is a tech site, not Reddit.
  • 1 Hide
    joe nate , October 2, 2013 4:14 PM
    Well, anyone who knows about 32-bit and 64-bit processors knows it's a gimmick that isn't needed until you need to make more than 4gb of ram accessible. As much as I might want to blame apple for the gimmick, sadly, I know that it sells. There's quite a few 16-32gb RAM computers on the market when 99% of the users who buy them have no imaginable way to even use more than 20-40% of the ram in the computer and has absolutely no benefit to performance at all. Big numbers sell because people don't understand computers.
  • 2 Hide
    wemakeourfuture , October 2, 2013 4:19 PM
    Quote:
    joe nate
    Well, anyone who knows about 32-bit and 64-bit processors knows it's a gimmick that isn't needed until you need to make more than 4gb of ram accessible. As much as I might want to blame apple for the gimmick, sadly, I know that it sells. There's quite a few 16-32gb RAM computers on the market when 99% of the users who buy them have no imaginable way to even use more than 20-40% of the ram in the computer and has absolutely no benefit to performance at all. Big numbers sell because people don't understand computers.


    Most people with 16GB or more ram are power users. You don't find your granny or a random student with a 16GB or more.

    Myself and 2 others I know have 16GB and more, and we defiantly use it.
    Never met an average consumer with a machine with 16GB or more. Have you?
  • 2 Hide
    PyjamasCat , October 2, 2013 4:42 PM
    I don't see why everyone makes a big kerfuffle when someone decides to advance to the next step. Whenever there is an upgrade in technology, it's true impact doesn't seem to show for a while (because it usually needs other supporting hardware/software to access all the benefits it can provide.)

    These things happen and just sets the mark for everyone else (but there is that race to get the "best of the best" to show and sell to the consumer). There is always someone who does it first and often depending on who, the media and communities will congratulate or shun for the improvement/advance. Honestly, advances in tech should be seen as "we might not need it now, but it's ready for later" kind of things, accept that it has happened and will be needed even though it may not be today.
  • -1 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 2, 2013 4:53 PM
    "Why not make the switch now? Everything will be 64bit eventually"

    Yes it will, but just like the AMD Athlon64 chips that came out, the cost of RAM was so high that by the time it was reasonable to buy it the chips were no longer competitive, 64 bit Windows was rare as hen's teeth and there was no software written to take advantage. Apple releases a new phone every year, you think the next iPhone will have 4gb ram in it? I'm all for jumping on new tech with the idea you are ready for the future, but that idiom works on PCs where you can upgrade, iPhones are sealed and nobody will be able to upgrade the handset to 4Gb - they should have put the ram in it at the same time as the chip or held off on the chip until they could for the iPhone 6.
  • -1 Hide
    InvalidError , October 2, 2013 5:03 PM
    Quote:
    What exactly are you doing that requires 16GB+ of RAM in a none workstation environment?

    I have 32GB RAM in my PC. About 16GB is used by programs and the other 16GB is used to cache frequently used files so my PC does not get slowed down by HDD IO all the time. So I technically use practically all of it.

    It may be considered excessive by some but I used to pay $400-600 for RAM in my previous builds so when I built my current PC and RAM was under $100/16GB, it didn't take me long to decide to max it out while DDR3 was about as cheap as it is likely to ever get.
  • 2 Hide
    ap3x , October 2, 2013 5:12 PM
    well, I can say that I can put that kind of memory to use. I use ThinkorSwim for trading and with just a couple of windows up it uses 500meg by itself. Hell even the flash player plugin uses 200meg. Firefox almost uses 200meg. If you are a power user and do allot of multi tasking and have allot applications opened at the same time you will get past 4gb pretty quickly so 64-bit is definitely needed.

    My guess is that phones are quickly reaching the point where there are so many applications opened in the back ground and now the applications are becoming more advanced that they are consuming more resources now.

    We all knew it was just a matter of time before this stuff would start to happen regardless of the platform. It is pointless to argue this based on a platform bias. All of them will go to 64bit in short order.
  • 1 Hide
    jl0329 , October 2, 2013 5:15 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    joe nate
    Well, anyone who knows about 32-bit and 64-bit processors knows it's a gimmick that isn't needed until you need to make more than 4gb of ram accessible. As much as I might want to blame apple for the gimmick, sadly, I know that it sells. There's quite a few 16-32gb RAM computers on the market when 99% of the users who buy them have no imaginable way to even use more than 20-40% of the ram in the computer and has absolutely no benefit to performance at all. Big numbers sell because people don't understand computers.


    Most people with 16GB or more ram are power users. You don't find your granny or a random student with a 16GB or more.

    Myself and 2 others I know have 16GB and more, and we defiantly use it.
    Never met an average consumer with a machine with 16GB or more. Have you?


    What exactly are you doing that requires 16GB+ of RAM in a none workstation environment?


    I am pretty sure he uses it for MS paint.
  • 0 Hide
    joe nate , October 2, 2013 5:21 PM
    "Most people with 16GB or more ram are power users. You don't find your granny or a random student with a 16GB or more.

    Myself and 2 others I know have 16GB and more, and we defiantly use it.
    Never met an average consumer with a machine with 16GB or more. Have you?"

    The definition of "power user" varies from one user to another. Can you and your two other people actually account for more than 8gb of that RAM being used? Most applications people use (which tend to be 32 bit applications in the first place) don't take more than 1gb of ram in the first place. This means you could mean that with the OS running, you could use up to 7 of these hungry applications all running at once without the OS using a swap file (which modern OS's are pretty aggressive about using even when you are at less than 2gb of ram being used at one time)

    Yes. I find even "power users" getting excessive with their RAM thinking they need it and actually use it. I'm not saying there aren't applications for it; there are. Multiple virtual machines (Where you're already assigning out large chunks of the ram to be usable for that VM, even if that VM isn't using it yet), people who use RAMDisk software (instead of an SSD) and high end production software working with huge files (no, word and excel are not huge files, we're talking where the file that you work with is at least 1gb or larger, as in long lengths of high quality video) are just a few examples. You may very well be one of those people, but many people who think they are, simply aren't. Opening up 10 applications that run at once than need 300mb or less doesn't make you a power user. It doesn't even take up all the 4gb of ram that most lower end computers come with these days.
  • -2 Hide
    InvalidError , October 2, 2013 5:42 PM
    Quote:
    Opening up 10 applications that run at once than need 300mb or less doesn't make you a power user. It doesn't even take up all the 4gb of ram that most lower end computers come with these days.

    While individual applications might not use more than 1-2GB at any given time, many of them, such as games, rely on a much larger data set (20-40GB for MMOs) and you need enough RAM to cache the most frequently accessed data from those files if you do not want them to get periodically reloaded from HDD or swapfile. This can eat several times more RAM than the application itself.
  • 2 Hide
    tomfreak , October 2, 2013 5:48 PM
    Qualcomm actually make sense, extra registers for 64bit dont come free, they take up die space as well as power usage even it is small, but all these matters in mobile. Why add something that is not use when RAM on phones are nowhere near it. I can understand Samsung because they are planning to have 3GB RAM phones, which is pretty close to 4GB limit, but Apple? it doesnt even have a mobile ARM device that have more than 1GB RAM which is not even close to 4GB, why bother adding it?
  • 0 Hide
    none12345 , October 2, 2013 5:58 PM
    Its still going to be a good 2 years at least before its needed. I doubt well see >4 gig ram phones before then.

    In the long run its absolutely needed. But today, nope, tomorrow, nope, few years down the line, sure.

    I doubt apple for instance will have a >4 gig ram phone before at least 3 years, likely longer. So they are certainly premature.

    Its a marketing gimick in this case, and it will work, the apple fan is pretty clueless when it comes to hardware. All they see is the shinny apple, or the pretty colors. Ohhhh shiny....
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , October 2, 2013 6:04 PM
    Quote:
    but Apple? it doesnt even have a mobile ARM device that have more than 1GB RAM which is not even close to 4GB, why bother adding it?

    ARM64 also adds new SIMD and crypto instructions which are likely to be used in many multimedia and transactional algorithms. These would be useful to improve performance per watt for image/video processing and encrypted protocols regardless of whether extra addressing space is required, as does the availability of extra registers.

    Doesn't Cocoa's Objective-C back-end use bytecode intermediate representation with a native recompiler much like Microsoft .NET MSIL and Java bytecode do? In that case, the native recompiler on the device can recompile "legacy" apps to 64bits on-the-fly.
  • 0 Hide
    Cazalan , October 2, 2013 6:14 PM
    There's no need for a $300-$800 cell phone either, but companies still make them.

    If Qualcomm comes out with a S1000 or whatever that's more than twice as fast as S800 and it has similar power draw and is still 32bit then maybe he has a leg to stand on.

    The reason Qualcomm/Samsung are in no rush is that Android has to be upgraded to support it. Apple made the transition early because they can. They're vertically integrated. It wasn't really necessary for a cell phone yet but the same chip is going to be used in tablets where it can be leveraged.
  • 0 Hide
    CKKwan , October 2, 2013 6:23 PM
    Oh Dear, don't anyone know the different between Address and Data bus? While we might not need 64bits address bus in near future, but 64bits Data bus is really a boost.
  • 0 Hide
    mj4358 , October 2, 2013 6:28 PM
    AnandTech best explains the reasoning and advantages of going 64bit

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7335/the-iphone-5s-review/2
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , October 2, 2013 6:29 PM
    I rather have 64 bit regs than 16 or 32 if we can have them.

    It would speed up transition to 64bits in all platforms I guess.

    Cheers!
  • -1 Hide
    Yuka , October 2, 2013 6:29 PM
    I rather have 64 bit regs than 16 or 32 if we can have them.

    It would speed up transition to 64bits in all platforms I guess.

    Cheers!
Display more comments