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Mobile market revs up for 64bit processors race

17 Mar 2014

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Just one quarter after the launch of Apple's A7, the first 64bit mobile processor, the company managed to power more than 36 million iPhones and iPads with this chip. With the introduction of A7, Apple has once again shaken the whole mobile industry, forcing chipset suppliers and device vendors to make 64bit chips a high priority in their roadmaps.

Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Nvidia all announced their first 64bit mobile processors at Mobile World Congress this year, but 64bit-compliant smartphones are unlikely to hit the market before the release of the next Android update, expected in the second half of the year. By the end of 2014, ABI Research expects shipments of 64bit mobile processors to exceed 182 million, of which only 20 per cent will power Android devices.

Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of 64bit mobile chips announced so far are targeted at the mid-range of the Android market and not the high-end part of it. "A number of early adopters will initially use 64bit as a catchy marketing strategy to easily communicate differentiation using 'more-is-better' adage previously used for promoting performance in the multi-core processor race," commented Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research.

"This is not to say that 64bit processing will not add any significant value to the Android sphere, but the benefits of this technology will become apparent only when its implementation over Android matures," Saadi added.

By 2018 shipments of 64bit processors targeting smartphones and tablets will exceed 1.12 billion units, representing 55 per cent of the total market. Android devices will be leading consumption of these chips with 60 per cent market share, followed by Apple's iOS with 30 per cent and Microsoft Windows in the third position with less than 9 per cent market share.

ARM will be the dominant instruction set for 64bit mobile processing over the forecast period but will gradually lose market share to x86 architecture, which will grasp about 10 per cent share of the total market by 2018.

These findings are part of ABI Research's Mobile Device Semiconductors Research Service.

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