ARM Details ARMv8 64-Bit Architecture - HotHardware
ARM Details ARMv8 64-Bit Architecture

ARM Details ARMv8 64-Bit Architecture

ARM's breakout might be just a step ahead. While ARM chips have always been vital, they've become even more so with the proliferation of mobile products. And now that Microsoft has committed to making Windows on ARM a reality, the sky's the limit. Now, ARM's detailing and disclosing the inner specs behind the next version of the ARM architecture. It'll be called ARMv8, the first ARM architecture to include a 64-bit instruction set.  ARMv8 broadens the ARM architecture to embrace 64-bit processing and extends virtual addressing, building on the rich heritage of the 32-bit ARMv7 architecture upon which market leading cores such as the Cortex™-A9 and Cortex-A15 processors are built.

The ARM architecture is unique in its ability to span the full range of electronic devices and equipment, from tiny sensors through to large scale infrastructure equipment. Building on the industry standard 32-bit ARM architecture, the new ARMv8 architecture will expand the reach of ARM processor-based solutions into consumer and enterprise applications where extended virtual addressing and 64-bit data processing are required.

The ARMv8 architecture consists of two main execution states, AArch64 and AArch32. The AArch64 execution state introduces a new instruction set, A64 for 64-bit processing. The AArch32 state supports the existing ARM instruction set. The key features of the current ARMv7 architecture, including TrustZone®, virtualization and NEON™ advanced SIMD, are maintained or extended in the ARMv8 architecture.


In support of the introduction of the ARMv8 architecture, ARM is working to ensure a robust design ecosystem to support the 64-bit instruction set. The ARM compiler and Fast Models with ARMv8 support have already been made available to key ecosystem partners. Initial support for a range of open source operating systems, applications and third-party tools is already in development. Working together the ARM partnership is collaborating to accelerate development of a 64-bit ecosystem, in many cases as a natural extension to the broad ecosystem in place to support ARMv7 based devices in the market today.  

"ARM is an important partner for Microsoft," said KD Hallman, general manager, Microsoft Corp. "The evolution of ARM to support a 64-bit architecture is a significant development for ARM and for the ARM ecosystem. We look forward to witnessing this technology's potential to enhance future ARM-based solutions."

“The combination of NVIDIA’s leadership in energy-efficient, high-performance processing and the new ARMv8 architecture will enable game-shifting breakthroughs in devices across the full range of computing – from smartphones through to supercomputers,” said Dan Vivoli, senior vice president, NVIDIA.

“The current growth trajectory of data centers, driven by the viral explosion of social media and cloud computing, will continue to accelerate. The ability to handle this data increase with energy-efficient solutions is vital,” said Vinay Ravuri, vice president and general manager of AppliedMicro’s Processor Business Unit. “The ARM 64-bit architecture provides the right balance of performance, efficiency and cost to scale to meet these growing demands and we are very excited to be a leading partner in implementing solutions based on the ARMv8 architecture.”

The ARMv8 architecture will enable the development of ARM architecture compatible devices that can be designed to maximize the benefits across both 32-bit and 64-bit application areas. This will bring the advantages of energy-efficient 64-bit computing to new applications such as high-end servers and computing, as well as offering backwards compatibility and migration for existing software through a consistent architecture.

The ARMv8 architecture specifications describing all aspects of the ARMv8 architecture are available now to partners under license. ARM will disclose processors based on ARMv8 during 2012, with consumer and enterprise prototype systems expected in 2014. Who knows -- maybe Intel's next big rival is ARM.
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Very nice. I had a feeling something like this was coming after reading the article about nVidia Tegra working on server products.

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It's always good to hear about a processor getting more powerful and power efficient. And i's even better to know it could help redistribute the market shae more fairly between the competitors.

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So does this mean that ARM might target the desktop/laptop space in the future? Or is this just more of a logical evolution of the processor?

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Next gen 28nm Cortex A15 ARM systems will be what ARM needs to start targeting the laptop market, while strengthening their position in the tablet and the rest of the mobile market . For perspective though, keep in mind performance will still only be rivaling Intel ATOM for CPU performance. ARM still has a long way to go before they can offer anything close to the performance of Intel's mainstream processors and they only have until 2013 before Intel finally improves their Intel ATOM line and starts to make a serious push into the mobile market.

The ARMv8 is only an introduction of the 64bit architecture to ARM and it will be a few years before we see any actual products. Similar to how long it took for the x86 industry to make the switch from 32bit to 64bit we'll likely won't see 64bit become common for at least another decade for ARM.

However, we should start seeing aspects of 64bit architecture being adopted like for improved memory management much sooner. While more niche but specialized applications such as the server market will also start developing designs specifically for those markets and will start to be very different from what we're use to in the mobile market and thus will likely be the early adopters of the newer 64bit designs.

So yes, more a logical evolution of the processor right now...

Though whether ARM can compete in the laptop/desktop market or not, they will be expanding into many other devices. Like Smart TV's, set top boxes, car computers, etc.

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