Lots of hype followed by a lot of backlash about Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip. The reality, not surprisingly, seems to be somewhere closer to the middle. A couple good primers — first, Stephen Shankland:
But Apple is smart to lay the foundations for 64-bit mobile computing now, for three reasons. First, large memory capacity is an academic issue in the mobile market today, but it won’t always be. Second, the 64-bit transition happens to come along with other chip changes that are useful immediately. And third, it gives Apple more flexibility to build ARM-based PCs if it chooses to embrace an alternative to Intel chips.
And John Paczkowski:
For one thing, 64 bit integer math will allow the A7 to execute operations much faster than the 32-bit A6. “The fact that the A7 has twice as many processor registers means that more operations can occur without the processor using main memory, which is slower to access,” Carl Howe, VP of research and data sciences at the Yankee Group told AllThingsD. “This means for that for some codes, the A7 will be twice as fast (or faster depending on how many memory accesses the original code had) to run code because the processor doesn’t have to use main memory as much.”
But for most, the gains found here will be marginal, said Moor Insights analyst Paul Teich. “Double the register file adds a few percent to performance,” he said. “It’s a deep compiler and runtime VM issue. … So marginal improvements for most apps, at best. Depending on how code is written it can run a little longer without hitting main memory, but it really depends on whether you are writing a computationally intensive app or not.”
So, some good news, some potentially great news, and no bad news in this move to 64-bit chips. Also, the iPhone is now future proof’d and this could have huge ramifications for future Macs.