ARM Cortex-A50 chips to power future 64-bit smartphones

ARM has its range of 64-bit processors all lined up for 2014
ARM has its range of 64-bit processors all lined up for 2014

ARM today revealed its next generation Cortex-A50 64-bit processors that are made for everything from smartphones to servers.

The new series of chips will start with the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 processors, which ARM claims are the most energy efficient 64-bit processors yet due to its ARMv8 architecture.

The Cortex-A57 processor takes the spotlight as ARM's new top tier chip, boasting three times the performance of existing smartphone processors. And because of the energy efficient v8 architecture, it's capable of that level of performance with a comparable energy footprint to current chips.

The Cortex-A53 is the world's smallest 64-bit processor. Though it doesn't pack the same performance as the A57, it's said to make up for that by only using a quarter of the power needed by current smartphone processors.

Both chips can power devices on their own, or they can be combined using ARM big.LITTLE processing for wider scalability as the chips dynamically switch depending on the computational task at hand.

64-bit futures

ARM expects the Cortex-A50 chip line to start appearing in smartphones and tablets in 2014.

All processors in the Cortex-A50 line will also feature ARM's Mali GPU on board and are built to be backwards compatible with 32-bit systems.

While smartphones and tablets will be big business for the new chips, they're also designed with servers in mind and ARM already has a partnership lined up with AMD to bring 64-bit servers to market in 2014 as well.

ARM is also quick to list Samsung among the companies lined up to make use of its Cortex-A50 chips, though it's unknown what plans Samsung may have in mind.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 chips have been the processor of choice for top-tier smartphones and tablets since they came onto the scene earlier this year. ARM's 64-bit processors look like they could give the S4 a run for their money, though we will have to wait until 2014 to get the first 64-bit smartphones in hand.