Just one quarter after the launch of Apple’s A7 (the first 64-bit mobile processor), Cupertino managed to power more than 36 million iPhones and iPads with its flagship chip.
With the introduction of A7, Apple has once again shaken the whole mobile industry, forcing chipset suppliers and device vendors to make 64-bit chips a high priority in their roadmaps.
Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Nvidia all announced their first 64-bit mobile processors at Mobile World Congress this year but 64-bit-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 64-bit mobile processors to exceed 182 million, of which only 20% will power Android devices.
Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of 64-bit 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 64-bit 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 64-bit 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 64-bit processors targeting smartphones and tablets will exceed 1.12 billion units, representing 55% of the total market. Android devices will be leading consumption of these chips with 60% market share, followed by Apple’s iOS with 30% and Microsoft Windows in the third position with less than 9% market share.
ARM will be the dominant instruction set for 64-bit mobile processing over the forecast period but will gradually lose market share to x86 architecture, which will grasp about 10% share of the total market by 2018.