Android 64-bit support may not be that far off

September 17, 2013
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Apple announced the iPhone 5s last week, which as some will remember, has an A7 processor and support for 64-bit. This of course brought the follow-up chatter regarding the move to 64-bit on the mobile side. We have already heard from Samsung on the topic. Samsung has pledged future support for 64-bit, however despite Apple already having made the official announcement, it looks like Android may not be that far behind.

In fact, according to a recent ars technica report, Android is already capable of 64-bit processing. This all ties in with how Android is based on the Linux kernel. And well, Linux has already been supporting 64-bit for several years now. The report cites Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin who said that 64-bit support is "done in Linux." Zemlin then went on to talk about how "the Android ecosystem just picks that up by default."

The key here is the other companies such as Samsung to make good on those promises and offer devices with 64-bit chips. Then from that point things would shift towards the developers. They would need to begin building apps that would be able to take advantage of the technology so the end users can begin experiencing the potential benefits.

Needless to say, this will all take some time. Not to mention we would first need Google to begin offering some support for 64-bit development. For example, new tools that will allow developers to rework their apps to support the new setup. Similar to how we saw Apple talk about how they updated their core apps, we would expect Google to do the same.

In the end it seems 64-bit for Android is just a matter of time. Basically, it seems as if we should be asking when this will come as opposed to if this will come. That does bring the question as to whether Google will make any kind of 64-bit announcement when they offer more details on Android 4.4 Kit Kat.

VIA: DailyTech


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  • Captain_Doug

    Android can do it, cool. Why aren’t we utilizing it? Hardware must be there by now.

    • Justin Swanson

      Theoretically, yes the hardware is there now.

      In practice, the hardware isn’t really there now. Even in the case of Apple’s iOS7/iPhone5S/A7 architecture, 64 bit doesn’t really give you anything above and beyond. In order to get effective gains from using a 64 bit architecture, you’d need to have at least 4GB of RAM or more. No one has said how much RAM the iPhone5S has but I’m guessing it’s not 4 GB. Probably 1GB, or maybe 2GB. I think Apple is planning for the future. Getting things ready before we actually need it (unlike with the Desktop). The worst part is that applications need to support 64 bit architecture just as much as the OS/chip sets. This means developer by-in.

      Windows has had 64 bit architecture support for about 12 years. In that time the only MAJOR applications that I know of that are 64 bit are: Photoshop, Office 2010/2013, (I think) an AutoCAD iteration. I don’t know of ANY games that run natively in 64 bit. I’ve been hoping to see this improve, but it really hasn’t. I think part of the problem is because Windows 64 bit does a good job of emulating the 32 bit environment so that most of the 32 bit apps run well.

      In Mobile devices it would probably use too much energy to power a full 4GB (or more) of RAM. Unless they do something like what Samsung did with the Octa-core (completely power off the RAM when it’s not needed) then battery life will suffer. I don’t really see this a a feasibility (especially in Android) because of the way it handles RAM.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        As to RAM power consumption, remember 64 bit will coincide with 14 nm, frequency reduced to 2.4 GHz to save power, we could easily have 12GB, at 4x the transistors to the square mm, given the Note 3 has 3GB, even limited to 32 bit.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf

      Yup, ARM 64 bit, has been settled for over a year now, Samsung made Apple’s chips, Samsung says they’re going 64 bit, Google Android and the core apps would have been planning this for years. Android is based on Linux, which has been 64 bit for ages, Apples chips, would be a modified ARM 64 bit micro architecture, Xbox and PS 4 are 64 bit, meaning there will be lots of 64 bit games to modify. With 14 nm coming next year we will see up to 300 Nvidia GPU core mobile devices, 600 GPU core if AMD gets into the game, with their 64 bit expertise. A wave of UD (4k) mobile devices is on its way, just get 4 x 5″ FHD smartphones put them in to a square and you already virtually have a 10″ UD tablet, $700 UDTVs at 39″ this Christmas available for online purchase. A $20 Snapdragon 800, or Tegra 4 chip can run UD movies, granted it would cost $40, by the time it gets into the hands of the customer, but I’d pay an extra $20 for UD background capabilities. A mere 8 MP camera can record in UD, as to congestion, fiber to the home, hybrid fiber coax, fiber to the node, household electrical power line networks can pump WiFi ac hotspots with up to 1GB/s. I watched an hour and a half 720p HD movie the other day, and it took up less than half a GB, so it would be amazing if you couldn’t get a UD movie down the line, or across the airwave spectrum in 4 GB, probably less with the economies of scale involved in 8 times the data. We’re going to see a pixel and RAM explosion, in the next couple of years, just like we have in the last couple regarding 1080p (FHDs) price collapse, my 21″ FHD monitor cost $130 a year ago. My Nexus 7 FHD, with twice the RAM of 15 months before only cost $Au 360 delivered, with 32 GB of flash and 4 times the graphics power. Hope you enjoyed Stu’s technobable :-).

  • Justin Swanson

    Were they using the exact same hardware as the 32 bit variant? I don’t think so. Not sure how you can compare a 64bit iPhone 5S to a 32bit iPhone 5 load times or anything else and authoritatively say: 64bit gives you any significant performance increases. Furthermore, the game/app/developer still HAS to have support for 64bit before any gains occur.

    The article you linked brings some very interesting points that I was unaware of with 64bit. I would like to see a side-by-side test still to see what the actual performance increases are instead of theoretical performance increases are. I would like to see how many games actually benefit from the changes and if games that aren’t graphic intensive even benefit at all. I know games like Infinity Blade utilize cutting edge graphics.

    Also, the 64bit switch will still require work from developers (something they still haven’t done on Windows). Therefore I would still assert that this is very much for future planning and not current tech.

    And then the article loses most of it’s cred when it starts to bash Android for no other reason than to bash