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ARM: No Plans for 128-Bit Chips

Heading off speculation from a recent report, a company official says 128-bit ARM-based chips aren't needed in the industry.

Don't expect the engineers at ARM to start churning out a 128-bit chip architecture any time soon, despite speculation generated by a recent report.

The news site The Korea Herald, quoting an unnamed ARM official, said a 128-bit chip could come to market within the next two years, with the officials reportedly adding that such a chip was more of a possibility than a plan that has been set in stone.

Still, the idea of a 128-bit chip—coming on the heels of Apple's 64-bit A7 processor for the iPhone 5S and other speculation about Samsung's plan for a similar chip for Android-based devices—caused enough of a stir that ARM officials decided to respond. And the response? Nothing is in the works, and that 64-bit capabilities are all that will be needed for the foreseeable future.

"News reports have suggested that ARM is developing 128-bit processor technology: This is not true. 64-bit processors are capable of supporting the needs of the computing industry now and for many years to come," Ian Drew, chief marketing officer and executive vice president for business development at ARM, said in a post on the company's blog. "There are absolutely no plans under way for 128 bit ARM-based chips because they simply aren’t needed. Rumors to the contrary are simply incorrect."

He also said that "comments attributed to any ARM executive … that allegedly discuss any specific partner’s chip plans for the future or 128-bit development are inaccurate: No such comments have been made."

Drew boasted about the company's efforts in 32-bit architectures—including the company's big.Little technology, which pairs CPUs of different power capabilities to address different workloads on a device—adding that there will be about 10 billion 32-bit chips sold in 2013, and that will grow in the future. In addition, ARM has launched its lineup of 64-bit ARMv8-A processor architectures, with the first chips based on the architecture starting to hit the market.

"In the coming year, I expect we will see increasing announcements of 64-bit solutions across mobile, networking and server markets," he wrote.

Such 64-bit capabilities in PCs meant being able to use more than 4GB of RAM, but right now, smartphones use less memory than that. So 64 bits in smartphones will be more than enough; 128 bits just isn't needed, Drew said.