ARM: It Is Too Early to Talk About 128-Bit Microprocessors

64-Bit Processors Will Be Enough for Many Years to Come

by Anton Shilov
11/25/2013 | 11:04 PM

64-bit microprocessors currently dominate the markets of desktops, notebook and servers; moreover, they are about to enter ultra-mobile space, including smartphones and tablets. With the widespread availability of 64-bit central processing units, maybe it is time to think about 128-bit chips? Not quite, believe executives from ARM Holdings. 64-bits will be enough for a long time.


A news-paper recently published a story claiming that ARM Holdings, which develops micro-processing technologies for mobile devices, has begun development of 128-bit processing architecture. ARM and its partners are only beginning to roll-out 64-bit application processors for mobile devices based on ARMv8-A micro-architecture. In the coming years everyone in the ARM camp will try to improve their 64-bit offerings, not introduce all-new 128-bit CPUs that will not be needed for years to come.

“News reports have suggested that ARM is developing 128-bit processor technology: this is not true. 64-bit processors are capable of supporting the needs of the computing industry now and for many years to come. There are absolutely no plans underway for 128 bit ARM-based chips because they simply aren’t needed. Rumors to the contrary are simply incorrect,” said Ian Drew, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of ARM.

While many modern microprocessors, including those based on ARM architecture, can feature 128-bit multimedia instructions (128-bit vector registers are used to store several smaller numbers, such as four 32-bit floating-point numbers.) or 128-bit memory access, there will be no general-purpose processors built to operate on 128-bit integers or addresses in the foreseeable future.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for the ARM ecosystem, with leading solutions from ARM partners taking computing to the next level. […] ARM leads the way with our 32-bit CPUs supporting a range of power and performance points, including solutions using our Big.Little technology.  These will be in about 10 billion chips sold in 2013 and will continue to grow for a very long time into the future. […] In the coming year I expect we will see increasing announcements of 64-bit solutions across mobile, networking and server markets,” said Mr. Drew.