ARM Holdings, the company that designs power-efficient processors as well as the underlying CPU architectures behind Apple’s A4, A5, A5X, A6, and A6X chips, made an announcement about it’s upcoming Cortex-A50 Series chips–which are what ARM claims will be “the world’s most energy-efficient 64-bit processors.” One of the upcoming chips (the Cortex-A57) will have three times the power of today’s smartphones, while using the same power budget, while another (the Cortex-A53) will be capable of “delivering today’s superphone experience while using a quarter of the power.” The only snag? These processors are about two years off, expected for release by 2014.
ARM’s upcoming chips look to be geared at two markets: The Cortex-A53 processor could seriously improve battery life in smartphones by using only a fraction of the power. A mobile phone is only good so long as you can use it, so extra battery is always nice. The Cortex-A57 processor looks to be a contender against what ARM calls “legacy PCs” while staying relatively battery friendly. The A57 processor could be what blurs the lines between ‘real’ computers based on Intel’s x86-64 archetecture and lightweight mobile computers based on ARM archetectures.
Already companies and other groups are hedging their bets between ARM and Intel. Microsoft released the Surface tablet last week, along with it’s ARM-based variant of Windows 8, known as Windows RT. Likewise, Canonical, the foundation behind Ubuntu linux, officially supports an ARM branch of the open source operating system. Steve Jobs himself had said that “PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them.”, and Apple–the company he co-founded–popularized the tablet.
Will 2014 be the year of ARM, or will “serious work” be conducted on x86-64 rigs for some time to come? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.