Apple Boosts 64-Bit Mobile Processor Market: ABI

By 2018, shipments of 64-bit processors targeting smartphones and tablets will exceed 1.12 billion units, representing 55 percent of the market.

By the end of 2014, shipments of 64-bit mobile processors are expected to exceed 182 million, of which only 20 percent will power Android devices, according to a report from IT analytics firm ABI Research.

While Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Nvidia all announced their first 64-bit mobile processors at Mobile World Congress this year, the report noted 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 2018, shipments of 64-bit processors targeting smartphones and tablets will exceed 1.12 billion units, representing 55 percent of the total market.

Android devices will be leading consumption of these chips with 60 percent market share, followed by Apple’s iOS with 30 percent and Microsoft Windows in the third position with less than 9 percent market share.

The study noted that just one-quarter after the launch of Apple’s A7, the first 64-bit 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 64-bit chips a high priority in their roadmaps," the report said.

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 percent share of the total market by 2018, the report predicted.

Qualcomm leapt ahead of Apple in 64-bit mobile chip development with its first eight-core Snapdragon 615 chip for mobile devices, which has integrated Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 4K video rendering capabilities.

The Snapdragon 610 and 615 chipsets also feature Qualcomm’s Adreno 405 graphic processing unit (GPU), bringing an Adreno 400 series GPU from the Snapdragon 800 premium tier to the Snapdragon 600 high-end tier for the first time.

The Adreno 405 GPU supports the latest mobile graphics APIs like DirectX 11.2 and Open GL ES3.0 with added support of hardware accelerated geometry shading and hardware tessellation for more detailed, realistic mobile games and visually impressive user interfaces.

"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," Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research, said in a statement. "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."