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Digitimes Research: Apple triggers 64-bit AP battle
Eric Lin, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei [Wednesday 5 February 2014]

Why is Apple so eager to adopt 64-bit technology for its processors? Digitimes Research believes it is because in the 32-bit segment, Apple is unable to use the existing architecture and low clock frequency setting to achieve performance similar to that done by the Android camp, which has been blindly pursuing performance while ignoring the balance between power consumption and performance.

The Android camp's pursuit of performance comes as a direct challenge to Apple's high-end platform. But its A7 processor, which features enhanced ARM v8 instruction set and highly-efficient circuits transformed from A57, will enhance Apple's competitiveness against the Android camp.

Other application processor (AP) suppliers originally did not plan to enter the 64-bit segment so early since their manufacturing processes still had yet to catch up and neither did Google at the time have plans to optimize Android for 64-bit applications. However, Apple's move forced its AP competitors to change their minds, with Qualcomm - which originally did not believe the 64-bit architecture had much value - becoming the first among the Android AP camp to announce a 64-bit roadmap. Others have also started adjusting their roadmaps to include 64-bit products.

However, the mobile application segment is evolving, with many high-workload applications having already shifted their focus from pure CPUs to independent DSPs or GPUs. Therefore, Digitimes Research is skeptical about 64-bit processors' ability to bring significant improvements to mobile user experience.

Mobile DRAM suppliers such as Samsung Electronics and Elpida Memory are aggressive about the 64-bit business opportunities. The technology's improved memory addressability is expected to create demand for more mobile DRAM capacity and bigger bus width designs are needed to enable better mobile storage performance. For these firms, the 64-bit battle promises huge business opportunities.

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