ARM specs out first 64-bit RISC chips • The Register

With the announcements recently from Calxeda and HP now ARM is jumping back into the limelight. They are working on the next version of the ARM architecture which will feature a 64bit clean design (which some speculated was going to arrive with ARM-15). Although the current version of the ARM architecture and support 40bit data paths, anything wider than that has to be worked around through OS level support of the underlying workaround. In a word, it’s a non-trivial task. But things will get much easier with the next Rev. All hail Version 8

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The ARM RISC processor is getting true 64-bit processing and memory addressing – removing the last practical barrier to seeing an army of ARM chips take a run at the desktops and servers that give Intel and AMD their moolah.

via ARM specs out first 64-bit RISC chips • The Register.

The downside to this announcement is the timeline ARM lays out for the first generation chips to use the new Vers. 8 architecture. Due to limited demand, as ARM defines it, chips will not be shipping until 2013 or as late as 2014. However according to this Register article the existing IT Data center infrastructure will not adopt ANY ARM-based chips until they are designed as a 64-bit clean architecture. Sounds like a potential for a chicken and egg scenario except ARM will get that Egg out the door on schedule with TMSC as it’s test chip partner. Some other details that come from the article include that the top end ARM-15 chip just announced already addresses more than 32-bits of Memory through a workaround that allows enterprising programmers to address as many as 40bits of memory if they need it. The best argument made for the real market need of 64-bit Memory addressing is for programmers currently on different chip architectures who might want to port their apps to ARM. THEY are are the real target market for the Vers. 8 architecture, and will have a much easier time porting over to another chip architecture that has the same level of memory addressing capability (64-bits all around).

As for companies like Calxeda who are adopting the ARM-15 architecture and the current ARM-8 Cortex chips (both of which fall under the previous gen. vers. 7 architecture), 32-bits of memory (4Gbytes in total) is enough to get by depending on the application being run. Highly parallel apps or simple things like single threaded webservers will perform well under these circumstances, according to The Register. And I am inclined to believe this based on current practices of Data Center giants like Facebook and Google (virtualization is sacrificed for massively parallel architectures). Also given the plans folks like Calxeda have for hardware interconnects, the ability off all those low power 32-bit chips all communicating with one another holds a lot of promise too.  I’m still curious to see if Calxeda can come up with a unique product utilizing the 64-bit ARM vers. 8 architecture when the chip finally is taped out and test chips are shipped out my TMSC.

Author: carpetbomberz

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