updated 06:23 am EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
Samsung 2014 Galaxy smartphones phones will have 64-bit chips
Samsung's mobile business boss Shin Jong-kyun has told The Korea Times that its next-generation of smartphones will incorporate 64-bit technology in their CPUs. Shin's remarks were prompted when asked what Samsung was going to do in response Apple 'smartphone first' 64-bit A7 processor running in the new iPhone 5s. Samsung, like Apple, is an ARM licensee, however Apple's licence (like Qualcomm's) extends further in being able to re-engineer ARM's designs to create custom cores -- Samsung will have to wait for ARM's own off the shelf 64-bit designs, which are due to start rolling off production lines in late 2013 for devices released in 2014.
"Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality," Shin told The Korea Times. ARM's 64-bit designs, known as the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53, were only taped out for the first time jointly by ARM and chip fabricator TSMC in April this year. In addition to supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, the new Cortex 50-series ARMv8 chips also support ARM's big.LITTLE configuration. This means, that like Samsung's current Exynos 5 Octa, the Samsung could roll out a 4+4 or genuine octa-core 64-bit chip for its smartphones ready for its Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 devices expected next year.
While there are performance gains to be made in mobile devices by adopting 64-bit architecture (along with the ability to support 4GB or more RAM), this will only be realized through the proper implementation of 64-bit support in any accompanying operating system and the applications that run on it. Apple has said that it has extended iOS 7 with 64-bit support on the iPhone 5s, along with developing native 64-bit versions of its standard applications, which is not surprising given that iOS 7 is built on the Mac OS X kernel. However, the 64-bit road map for the Android operating system has not been made clear at this stage.
This has not previously stopped Samsung from implementing chip technology and marketing it as a competitive advantage before Google's Android operating system was able to actually support it. The Samsung Galaxy S II beat Apple to developing a smartphone in implementing a dual-core processor, but this was in a device that ran Android 2.3 'Gingerbread,' which was not engineered for multi-core support. Even today, while Android 4.3 'Jelly Bean' offers support for multi-core chips, very few applications actually take advantage of this, with most running on one of up to four, or even eight cores.
While Samsung undoubtedly has the technical expertise to develop a true Octa-core 64-bit chip for its devices in 2014, it is quite possible that 7 of its 8 cores will see little active duty. In the meantime, it is clearly stinging slightly by the fact that Apple has beat it to the punch when it comes to 64-bit technology being implemented in its devices. In recent times, it has been Samsung leading the way on the technological front (even if some of it is largely redundant), although in this instance, it will be playing catch-up and it won't be until around March 2014 where it is able to boast of its own 64-bit chip technology.