Qualcomm tipped to have been greatly affected by Apple’s 64-bit reveal

December 16, 2013
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Whether you buy into it or not, Apple's fancy 64-bit mobile processor, which debuted in the iPhone 5s, has gotten people talking. Apparently over at Qualcomm, that talk is mixed with a bit of panic as the chip maker races to secure its footing in what may be a changing mobile processor landscape.

Apple's unveiling of its own 64-bit processor has caused not a small amount of debate over the Internet. It was almost natural that its rivals in the smartphone market would downplay its significance. After all, while a 64-bit CPU by itself does have technical advantages, the rest of the hardware on mobile devices have still to catch up in order to take full advantage of it. That said, despite initial indifference, or even outright denial, other players in the field, such as Samsung, have been reported to be making their way towards the 64-bit architecture.

According to an insider source, Qualcomm, one of the most popular system-on-chip manufacturers in the mobile space, has been hit quite hard by this development. The company's knee-jerk reaction was given voice by former chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher, who called it a marketing gimmick. The company later publicly disputed Chandrasekher's inaccurate statements and then changed Chandrasekher's job description. Now company executives are said to be quite worried about catching up.

The problem was that Apple's announcement caught Qualcomm off guard and at a bad time. It is quite reasonable to expect that chip manufacturers like Qualcomm, Samsung, and MediaTek would have an eye on 64-bit mobile processors for a long time now, but none of them probably expected that Apple would be the first to the scene. They are forced to fast-track their plans now that the cat is out of the bag. And this couldn't have come at a worse time for Qualcomm, who is undergoing cost-cutting and internal changes. There is no doubt that Qualcomm will be able to make that 64-bit transition eventually. The question is how much effort and resources it will now have to use to get there as soon as possible.

VIA: HubSpot


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  • Cory Wilson

    Qualcomm needs to calm down and stay the course. Their original comments are correct, it’s a marketing gimmick. They call it a “desktop class” processor yet last I checked Apple was still using ARM not x86.

    • tiddiver

      “They call it a “desktop class” processor yet last I checked Apple was still using ARM not x86.”

      What?????????

      • Cory Wilson

        One of Apples claims was a “64-bit desktop class processor”

      • tiger

        Maybe…but how does A7 compare to Intel’s Bay Trail chip? Pretty darn good.

      • Cal Rankin

        they’re pretty close in comparison. The A7 chip beats the Intel in single-core, but the Bay Trail chip runs circles around Apple in multicore. This is even considering that the benchmarks I’ve run were on Bay Trail tablets with the resource-hog known as Windows.

      • tiger

        From Anandtech:

        “Granted we’re comparing across platforms/browsers here, but the 5s as a platform does extremely well in Intel’s favorite benchmark. The 5c by comparison performs a lot more like what we’d expect from a smartphone platform. The iPhone 5s is in a league of its own here. While I don’t expect performance equalling the Atom Z3770 across the board, the fact that Apple is getting this close (with two fewer cores at that) is a testament to the work done in Cupertino.”

  • Christopher Robert

    64bit would be nice, once i have a phone that has 8GB of RAM and good programming/server management software. Otherwise 64bit is just a “gimmick”. Most desktop computer still run on 32bit architecture unless you work in IT or do heavy gaming. There are currently NO mobile platform games that require 64bit. Maybe in the next 2 years some will come out, but even that i doubt because they would be cutting off a large part of the market who will not own a compatible device.

    • tiger

      Ignorance is bliss i see.

  • troysyx

    Take a breath Qualcomm, your Snapdragon 800 is seriously an amazing SoC. Yes, of course you want to build a 64-bit chip of your own, but there truly isn’t and real need for it.

  • tiger

    Interesting the comments here. Apple A7 is able to beat S800 with dual core running at (optimal) 1.3 GHz.

    Gimmick? No. Qualcomm had to put its foot in its mouth. You guys need to do the same.

    ARMv8 is a modern architecture (since 2011-2012 i think). It is fast, efficient, and powerful…powerful not just with 64-bit programs but also backward compatible with 32-bit programs.

    ARMv7, which is what S800 and others are based on, is over 20 years old technology/design!!

    For those wondering, there is a growing list of 64-bit (ARMv8-optimized) apps: Call of Duty, Infinity Blade 3, Djay2, Sling, EPOCH2, Assassins Creed Pirates, among others.

    Of course, all Apple apps are 64-bit coded, including Maps. Google Maps SDK for iOS version 1.6 adds full support for Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor.

    Gimmick? You guys need to do some more research (or soul searching!). Geez…and i thought Android folks are supposed to be tech savvy.

    • tiger

      From Anandtech

      Quotes:

      With Cyclone Apple is in a completely different league. As far as I can tell, peak issue width of Cyclone is 6 instructions. That’s at least 2x the width of Swift and Krait, and at best more than 3x the width depending on instruction mix.

      Cyclone appears to be the widest ARM architecture we’ve ever seen at this point. I’m talking wider than Qualcomm’s Krait 400 (S800) and even ARM’s Cortex A15.

      As Brian found out in his investigation after the iPad event last week all three devices use the exact same silicon with the exact same internal model number: S5L8960X. There are no extra cores, no change in GPU configuration and the biggest one: no increase in memory bandwidth.

      This is the first Apple SoC that’s able to deliver good amounts of memory bandwidth to all consumers. A single CPU core can use up 8GB/s of bandwidth. I’m still vetting other SoCs, but so far I haven’t come across anyone in the ARM camp that can compete with what Apple has built here. Only Intel is competitive.

      You can see the 5s throttles back its CPU frequency to about 1GHz after the 2 minute mark. The crazy thing is that until that point the 5s manages to run at full frequency without so much as a hiccup for two full minutes, running an incredibly power hungry task. Given that most iOS apps aren’t this power intensive for such a sustained period of time, iPhone 5s users should almost always see the A7 running at a full 1.3GHz. Pretty crazy.

      There’s definitely a ton of headroom left in the design.