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

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.

  • sean1357
    ---> Qualcomm is working on its own 64-bit chip as well.

    So why they are working on its?????? Snapdragon 800 is 32-bit...
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    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.
    Reply
  • John Bauer
    11643601 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • wemakeourfuture
    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?
    Reply
  • PyjamasCat
    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.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    "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.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    11643776 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • ap3x
    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.
    Reply
  • jl0329
    11643776 said:
    11643675 said:
    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.
    Reply