ARMv8 will succeed ARMv7, which is the foundation for current processors such as the Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15. What makes ARMv8 special is the addition of a new "A64" 64-bit instruction set, which will enable the company to move much more aggressively into the server and enterprise computing space.
ARM's new processors will feature both 32-bit and 64-bit (AArch32 and AArch64) execution states.
"With our increasingly connected world, the market for 32-bit processing continues to expand and evolve creating new opportunities for 32-bit ARMv7 based processors in embedded, real-time and open application platforms." said Mike Muller, CTO of ARM. "We believe the ARMv8 architecture is ideally suited to enable the ARM partnership to continue to grow in 32-bit application spaces and bring diverse, innovative and energy-efficient solutions to 64-bit processing markets."
ARM specifically referred to servers as a new application area for its products, which may raise some interest at Intel. It appears that ARM will take its time with this effort and said that it has begun building an ecosystem around its 64-bit instruction set. the company said it will disclose the first ARMv8 processors in 2012, but it does not expect systems using these chips to appear until 2014. Initial support for open source OS support is apparently in the works at this time.
However, it is particularly interesting that ARM was able to score not only high-profile quotes from AppliedMicro and Nvidia in its press release, but also a quote from Microsoft, which appears to be participating in this effort was also quoted: "ARM is an important partner for Microsoft," a statement attributed to KD Hallman, general manager at Microsoft reads. "The evolution of ARM to support a 64-bit architecture is a significant development for ARM and for the ARM ecosystem. We look forward to witnessing this technology's potential to enhance future ARM-based solutions."