At the ARM TechCon 2011 in Santa Clara, California, the British computer company issued a press release stating technical details about their next-gen architecture, ARMv8, which is due for an official announcement next year. Despite ARM’s previous decision to stick with a 32-bit architecture, ARMv8 will include a 64-bit instruction set as well thereby, expanding the scope of their processors to large scale infrastructure equipments and even high-end desktops. The new architecture will have both 32-bit and 64-bit instruction sets much like CPUs from Intel and AMD. The 32-bit mode is called AArch32, while the 64-bit mode is referred to as AArch64. Prototypes of these chips are only said to show up in 2014, so Intel and AMD have plenty of time to rethink their strategy.
Heading to a desktop near you
Main features of the existing ARMv7 instruction set will be migrated over like TrustZone, virtualization and NEON advanced SIMD. Adding a 64-bit instruction set opens up a whole new window of opportunity for ARM in the low-end as well and enterprise level segments. We also know that Microsoft is strongly endorsing this platform when they showed off a bunch of ARM-based computers running Windows 8. While Intel and AMD are still sticking to the x86/x64 architecture, it will be interesting to see who ARM's competition will be. What this means for us end users is that we can soon expect more energy-efficient 64-bit computing applications at hopefully a lot lower cost.