Samsung Meets With ARM to Discuss 64-Bit CPU for 2014 Galaxy S5, 128-bit Chips
November 21, 2013 1:40 PM
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Samsung also is eyeing Cortex-M processors for its Smart TVs and appliances
Two of the smartphone market's biggest powers met this week to discuss processors. UK-based ARM Holdings plc (
), an architecture company whose titular instruction set is found in 95 percent of smartphones sold today, traveled to South Korea, the home turf of Android phonemaker South Korea's Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
accounted for over 30 percent of global smartphone shipments
in Q3 -- nearly three times more than any other OEM.
Samsung and ARM met to discuss the adoption of ARM's new ARMv8 64-bit instruction set, which
Samsung's upcoming Exynos 6 processors for next year's Galaxy S5
expected to use
. Antonio Viana, ARM’s executive vice president of commercial and global development, met with senior Samsung executives to talk about the roadmap to 64-bit and beyond.
An unnamed senior manager at ARM with knowledge of the meeting suggested 128-bit chips might also have been discussed. While PC CPUs have yet to hit 128-bit,
The Korea Herald
the senior ARM executive as saying there was a "possibility" that ARM would release a 128-bit instruction set in the next two years and push for smartphone/tablet adoption. But the Korean publication says the ARM official said these plans were only a "possibility" and not a definite plan at present.
Samsung wants to make sure that its Exynos chips for next year's Galaxy S5 have access to ARM's best instruction set -- the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set.
The official is quoted as suggesting that smartphones soon may have more than 4 GB of memory and need 64-bit processors to address their memory. The source stated, "As technology moves from, for example, shifting to face recognition on smartphones from the
fingerprint scanner to unlock an iPhone
, it requires more powerful memory capacity."
It also appears that ARM is incentivizing the transition to 64-bit ARM chips in the mobile market, in part, to
fuel its server ambitions
, as well as its PC push.
While 64-bit chips offer some gains in graphics and I/O addition to the aforementioned memory addressing gains, processing is generally otherwise unaffected. However, ARM is purposefully
tilting the playing field in 64-bit's flavor
by designing its new instruction sets -- which allow more registers -- to only work for 64-bit chips. 32-bit chips will be forced to use the older, less optimized ARMv7. In other words, ARM is telling mobile chipmakers to make the switch or settle with last generation instruction sets.
This push will allow ARM to foster an ecosystem of compatible applications, which may help the chip designer to
push into the PC and server markets
, two key areas of desired growth.
Samsung may look to use the Cortex M chips in new appliances.
Samsung and ARM also reportedly discussed the
, a low power core design which Samsung may look to use in its appliances and Smart TVs.
The Korea Herald
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11/22/2013 1:18:05 PM
There certainly are advantages beyond the addressable space for going to a true 64-bit processor as you point out.
But what is really a 64-bit processor? For that matter, what is a 32 bit processor? To see how confusing the naming can be you only need to look back at Motorola's 68000 series processors, back when processors were actually chip sets and not monolithic chips. The 68000 chipset was called a 32 bit processor, but in its first implementation it did 32 bit integer math internally, had a 16 bit data bus, had a 24 bit address buss and interfaced to a math co-processor chip that did 32 bit single precision, 64 bit double precision and 80 bit extended precision math. So was the 68000 chipset a 16 bit, a 24 bit, a 32 bit, a 64 bit or an 80 bit chipset?
People often like to focus on the address space -- hmmm... the original POWER chipset was considered a 32 bit chipset. However, IIRC it had a 48 bit address space. So was it a 32 bit chipset or a 48 bit chipset?
Right after Apple announced the "64 bit" A7 chip, Samsung said that early next year they would be shipping a chip with "64 bit features", but what "features" are those? Just as an extreme example, if it has a 16 bit data path, a 32 bit address space and does 64 bit floating point can they say it has "64 bit features"?
Go back to the first desktop chips with vector processing capabilities. Most of those had either 128 or 256 bit vectors, but they were still called either 32 or 64 bit chips.
I wish the naming "conventions" were consistent, but unfortunately the naming of the "bitness" of chips has been run by marketing types since the late 70s and not hardware or software engineers.
The bottom line is that until the chips Samsung is discussing are taped out and the ground rules of that tape out are made public (they often are not) we have
absolutely no idea
what Samsung means by "64 bit" or "128 bit". Anyone who says otherwise is just blowing smoke. Until then it's 100% marketing hype.
11/22/2013 4:04:46 PM
The bittedness of a CPU is commonly associated with the native word size of the processor, which is also typically the same size as the main registers.
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