Categories: Global Tech News

ARM Goes 64-bit: Cortex-A50 Surfaces, to Target Everything From Server to Phones

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) announced on Monday that it would be releasing new 64-bit Opterons in 2014 leveraging a radically different architecture to its current complex instruction set computer (CISC) x86 architecture — ARM Holdings plc’s (LON:ARM) reduced instruction set computer (RISC) ARM architecture.

At the tiime AMD mentioned in passing that the chips were 64-bit.  That led to a bit of mystery, as ARM had not officially announced a 64-bit intellectual property core yet, although one was widely rumored.

That mystery was laid to rest yesterday when ARM Holdings announced a new intellectual property core — the Cortex-A50 — a core which leverage ARM’s previously announced ARMv8 64-bit instruction set extensions.

The chips will tackle the full range of applications — everything from smartphones to servers.  It is the linear successor to the 32-bit ARM Cortex-A15.

ARM Holdings has announced several Cortex-A50 cores geared at different objectives. The ARM Cortex-A53 will be the most power-efficent ARM processor, and the world’s “smallest” (according to ARM) 64-bit processor.  ARM pledges that the mobile-geared Cortex-A53 will offer “three times the performance” of current generation smartphone chips.

A second core, the ARM Cortex-A57, is a more powerful 64-bit core, aimed at “high-performance applications”, such as heavily threaded server workloads.

Server chip makers Calxeda (pictured) are among Cortex-A50’s early adopters.
Wonder who is cooking up 64-bit ARM cores?  ARM disclosed that its initial licensee list indeed includes AMD.  Also on the list are Broadcom Corp. (BRCM)  Calxeda (Hewlett-Packard Comp.’s (HPQ) server chip partner, actually an ARM Holdings startup subsidiary), HiSilicon Technologies Comp., Ltd., Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), and STMicroelectronics N.V. (EPA:STM).

ARM says the new cores should ship in 2014.  The ARMv8 instruction set, though, is currently available for advanced developers and device implementers to start tinkering with.  Usually there’s about a half year of lag time between the IP core announcement and the time when official speed and core count targets begin to trickle out from licensees: so chip buffs, stay tuned.

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