Sunday, October 30, 2011

ARM Enters the World of 64-bit with New ARMv8 Chip Architecture

ARM chipARM has just introduced its very first 64-bit microprocessor architecture, known as ARMv8. This new architecture should enable wider use of ARM chips in servers as well as other enterprise equipment and also increase the competition the company currently has with Intel.

ARMv8 adds 64-bit addressing capabilities, which is an improvement over the ARMv7-A architecture. The ARMv7-A architecture is capable of up to 40-bit addressing, though this new architecture puts ARM into more direct competition with Intel and its 65-bit Xeon processors.

The new architecture will take time to show up, though. ARM expects to release its first ARMv8 processor designs next year with prototype consumer and enterprise systems not expected to arrive until sometime in 2014 according to ARM. In a speech by ARM CTO Mike Muller at ARM TechCon on Thursday where the new design was announced, Muller stated, "This is the beginning of quite a long road to 64-bit products."

The ARMv8 processor architecture will offer backwards compatibility as well as migration for existing software, ARM added. Most of the PC and server operating systems in today's market ar 64-bit. 64-bit allows computers to address larger amounts of storage and memory, something that is especially useful for data-intensive applications.

ARM licenses processor architectures and designs to mobile chip companies, like Nvidia, Samsung, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, and the company's processors are also used in most smartphones and tablets on today's market. However, the company has practically no presence in the server and PC markets, both of which are dominated by Intel and its x86 processors.

The new ARM architecture will be implemented in chips that range from tiny sensors to large-scale infrastructure equipment, according to ARM, who also stated that it will bring "energy-efficient 64-bit computing" to high-end servers. Microsoft has said previously that 64-bit applications run faster than 32-bit applications, and ARM's new architecture could make future chips with ARM processors capable of running 64-bit Windows applications.

Microsoft's Windows 8 will work on ARM and x86 processors, and devices like tablets have been demonstrated running on ARM's 31-bit processors. The lack of 64-bit capabilities was considered a drawback in ARM's efforts to enter the PC and server markets with most applications running 64-bits. ARM had previously stated that it would address 64-bit only when necessary, pointing out that it would not sacrifice power consumption in order to bring more performance. It looks like that time has come.

Source: Computer World - ARM goes 64-bit with new ARMv8 chip architecture is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

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