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ARM 64-bit CPUs coming soon, says report

November 22, 2010 // Peter Clarke

ARM 64-bit CPUs coming soon, says report

Processor intellectual property licensor ARM Holdings plc is expected to reveal its plans for processor cores that support 64-bit computing, within the next few weeks, according to an IDG news service report that cited sources close the company speaking at an ARM technology conference in Taipei. ARM (Cambridge, England) has shown "samples" according to the report.

The move is not unexpected although the detail of how a move to 64-bits would be archieved, its multicore support and when production volume chips would be available, would be of great interest.

ARM is already known to be working with a number of chip and equipment companies on applications of its cores within server applications but one thing the company has lacked is the ability to process data 64-bits at a time, which is a standard approach in the mainstream server and supercomputer markets.

A speedy move to 64-bits would show that ARM is serious about its desire to compete with Intel Corp. on the chip giant's traditional home ground at the high-end of the computer market.

ARM's latest processor core announcement was the Cortex-A15, previously codenamed Eagle. The A15 complies with the ARMv7 instruction architecture but with support for 40-bit virtualization. The next ARM processor to be announced will support 64-bit and could be unveiled as soon as next week, the report said.

One possibility — which would be very reminiscent of Intel's marketing style - would be if the basic Cortex-A15 design already supports 64-bit processing and ARM has quietly kept that detail back from the original announcement to give it more publicity. As ARM is licensor of IP it might be possible to allow chip partners to choose whether to opt for full 64-bit processing or opt for 32-bit depending on application and as they are designing their implementation of the chip.

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