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ARM Unveils 64-Bit ARMv8 Architecture

ARMv8 AnnouncementARM has just disclosed the technical of the ARMv8 architecture (to selected partners), featuring 64-bit instruction set support, extended virtual addressing, and backwards-compatible 32-bit support, so that software designed for ARMv7 (Cortex-A family) cores will run on the ARMv8 architecture.

Here are the key points of the press release:

The ARMv8 architecture consists of two main execution states, AArch64 and AArch32. The AArch64 execution state introduces a new instruction set, A64 for 64-bit processing. The AArch32 state supports the existing ARM instruction set. The key features of the current ARMv7 architecture, including TrustZone®, virtualization and NEON™ advanced SIMD, are maintained or extended in the ARMv8 architecture.

In support of the introduction of the ARMv8 architecture, ARM is working to ensure a robust design ecosystem to support the 64-bit instruction set. The ARM compiler and Fast Models with ARMv8 support have already been made available to key ecosystem partners. Initial support for a range of open source operating systems, applications and third-party tools is already in development. Working together the ARM partnership is collaborating to accelerate development of a 64-bit ecosystem, in many cases as a natural extension to the broad ecosystem in place to support ARMv7 based devices in the market today.

The ARMv8 architecture will enable the development of ARM architecture compatible devices that can be designed to maximize the benefits across both 32-bit and 64-bit application areas. This will bring the advantages of energy-efficient 64-bit computing to new applications such as high-end servers and computing, as well as offering backwards compatibility and migration for existing software through a consistent architecture.

ARM is currently working with other companies such as Microsoft, Nvidia and AppliedMicro to deliver silicon and operating systems that will take advantage of the new ARMv8 architecture.

You can watch ARM keynote at ARM Techcon 2011 to see ARMv8 Architecture announcement. The total keynote is about 40 minutes, ARMv8 announcement starts at 31:58.

The ARMv8 architecture specifications are available now to partners under license only. ARM says it will disclose processors based on ARMv8 during 2012, with consumer and enterprise prototype systems expected in 2014.

Applied Micro has not waited until 2012 to announce the world’s first 64-bit ARM architecture compliant processor that supports up 128 cores at 3GHz called X-Gene.

The X-Gene is a “server-on-a-chip” targeted at servers to addresses cloud computing, wireless infrastructure, enterprise networking, storage and security applications needs at less than half the power and cost of existing solutions.

The company says the new processors will implement the ARMv8 architecture, which includes the new ARM 64-bit instruction set, to deliver the world’s first “server-on-a-chip” integrating compute, networking and server elements into a single footprint.

The first samples X-Gene devices are expected in the second half of 2012.

For further information, you can refer to ARMv8 and Applied Micro X-Gene press releases.
For further technical details, you can download the ARMv8 Technology preview presentation slides.