Qualcomm and Intel work to bring 64-bit processing to Android masses

Qualcomm and Intel have both announced they will be providing manufacturers with 64-bit ready processors for tablet and smartphones that will start to come out from as early as this summer.

Qualcomm has announced a new variant of its Snapdragon 600 chipset that will be a "volume play" to get as many Android smartphones as possible up to speed on the 64-bit front in the next 12 months.

The processor, says the company, is perfect for the high-end mid-range phones, devices like a future Moto X or Nexus 5 for example.

Although not as powerful as the 32-bit Snapdragon 800 series, that doesn't bother the San Diego-based company - it realises that for developers who want to make their apps 64-bit there have to be handsets available.

It's a scenario that Apple has found itself in some six months after the launch of the 64-bit-capable iPhone 5S. There are a handful of 64-bit ready apps, but not many aside from Apple that really take advantage of what's available in terms of power.

Qualcomm, hoping to avoid that issue, acknowledges that the Android operating system doesn't yet support 64-bit processing, but the company hopes that Google will have baked that in by the end of the year, telling us that a number of manufacturers are planning to launch devices with the Snapdragon 600 processor before the year is out.

Qualcomm has also suggested to Pocket-lint that it is logical it will then look to continue to roll out the 64-bit process to other chipsets in the Snapdragon family, presumably the Snapdragon 800 series in time for the launch of next set of flagships. Sony Xperia Z3 anyone?

That Qualcomm will be able to use the chipset to continue its dominance of the smartphone and tablet market is something Intel is hoping to break. It too has announced a new 64-bit processor at MWC showing it off on a KitKat reference device with a Merrifield 2.3Ghz processor.

In early benchmarks, admittedly by the company, it's claimed the new processor - which is geared towards high-end devices, but also mid-range - will offer similar speeds to the iPhone 5S and last year's Qualcomm Snapdragon processor found in devices like the Sony Xperia Z1.

They've already got Android running with a 64-bit kernel on a reference device and hope to have a chip inside a device available to the public over the summer. Intel currently works with Lenovo, Asus, Foxconn and others, although the company wouldn't confirm which phone or tablet maker would be going first with the new processor.

What's clear however from talking to both chip makers is that Android should expect to get 64-bit support by the end of the year or at least within the next 12 months, and that when it does, the phones that will be shipping around the time, if not before, will have the smarts to be able deal with the new-found speed.

Whether in the short term that makes a difference to how we use our phones is yet to be decided. Apple users haven't really seen the benefits yet, but in the long term the potential could be huge.



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