ARM confirms plans for 64-bit version of Windows RT

Microsoft launched Windows RT alongside Windows 8 last week when it put the Windows RT version of the Surface tablet on sale. Other Windows RT products from Dell, Asus, Samsung and Lenovo are planned, all running on processors made by NVIDIA or Qualcomm that are based on designs from ARM.

However, those processors are 32-bit chips, while Windows 8 can run on 64-bit processors from Intel and AMD. Now, ARM has confirmed it is working with Microsoft to create a 64-bit version of Windows RT that will run on future chips designed by ARM.

PCWorld.com reports that Ian Forsyth, program manager at ARM, confirmed the collaboration with Microsoft and added, "ARM works with all its OS and ecosystem partners to inform them on next generation technologies and enable their support." There is no word on a possible launch date for the 64-bit version of Windows RT. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment.

ARM's first 64-bit processor designs, the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53, were officially announced this week as part of the company's TechCon trade show in Santa Clara, California. However, the first mobile devices and servers that will have processors based on those designs won't be launched until sometime in 2014.

Source: PCWorld.com

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Do we really need a 64-bit ARM architecture? I don't know the specifics, but there's probably a energy footprint. I'd rather have low power than more addressable RAM in a mobile device.

CentralDogma said,
Do we really need a 64-bit ARM architecture? I don't know the specifics, but there's probably a energy footprint. I'd rather have low power than more addressable RAM in a mobile device.

As has been noted previously in these comments the immediate use case for 64bit ARM is in data centers for low power server clusters. That said current devices are already sporting 2GB of RAM and the rate of improvement in mobile hardware shows no signs of slowing down so while there is no need RIGHT NOW for 64bit ARM it's not going to pop into existence out of nowhere and it likely won't be long before we do need it. 2014 is what people seem to be saying.

CentralDogma said,
Do we really need a 64-bit ARM architecture? I don't know the specifics, but there's probably a energy footprint. I'd rather have low power than more addressable RAM in a mobile device.

People seem to think that having a dual core/quad core phone will some how drain 2x/4x times the energy. The reason energy consumption is an issue for Smartphones (which has always been the case with Smartphones) is that more and more features are added, battery capacity hasn't had huge leaps in recent years and the fact people want smaller phones limits the size of the battery. The biggest power consumption you can have with a mobile phone is the actual screen.

In addition to potentially more powerful devices, this opens the door for server and other high data consumption environments.

With data requirements in larger scale operations and even devices starting to hit limits at the addressable memory and storage range for ARM, this will open up the door for a lot of things.

Microsoft was talking about low power Servers using Atom and ARM a couple of years ago. Not only would the power usage be less, but the space and cooling requirements would be a lot less in larger data centers.

It also would allow multi-CPU racks with many more processors in a much smaller space, and with Windows' ability to handle 64 and 256 CPUs with very little overhead, they can be single server systems in a tiny space.

So don't be surprised when you see multi-CPU ARM server racks running Windows Server 2012.

If Windows RT has a 64bit version, by default Windows Server 2012 will have an ARM 64bit version. Something people forget is that Windows 8 x64 and Windows Server 2012 use the same kernel, binaries, executables. The only difference is licensing, digital signatures, versioning information and allowed services in the registry.

thenetavenger said,
In addition to potentially more powerful devices, this opens the door for server and other high data consumption environments.

With data requirements in larger scale operations and even devices starting to hit limits at the addressable memory and storage range for ARM, this will open up the door for a lot of things.

Microsoft was talking about low power Servers using Atom and ARM a couple of years ago. Not only would the power usage be less, but the space and cooling requirements would be a lot less in larger data centers.

It also would allow multi-CPU racks with many more processors in a much smaller space, and with Windows' ability to handle 64 and 256 CPUs with very little overhead, they can be single server systems in a tiny space.

So don't be surprised when you see multi-CPU ARM server racks running Windows Server 2012.

If Windows RT has a 64bit version, by default Windows Server 2012 will have an ARM 64bit version. Something people forget is that Windows 8 x64 and Windows Server 2012 use the same kernel, binaries, executables. The only difference is licensing, digital signatures, versioning information and allowed services in the registry.

That seems like an awful niche market.

I bet it won't be long till Windows RT goes 64bit, I give it 2 years. Till then the devices RT targets which are tablets really don't need to go 64Bit at this point.

An even more incompatible, incompatible Windows.

Well, probably a good idea to skip the first gen Surface RT and hold out for with 64 bit. Should be out by next year. ARM will need something to answer to Haswell as soon as possible.

I can see intel's empire is very close to its end. cloud computing, low power devices, multi-core higher processing power and now 64-bit. is just the matter of time and software development now. intel can focus on server processors though.

S3P€hR said,
I can see intel's empire is very close to its end. cloud computing, low power devices, multi-core higher processing power and now 64-bit. is just the matter of time and software development now. intel can focus on server processors though.

HAHAHAHA. What are you smoking dude?
Intel isn't going anywhere.

eddman said,
Not going to happen. ARM will hit the IPC wall sooner or later, just like x86 did years ago.

Intel actually has some of the best fabs on the planet and are no slouch in their designs so they aren't going anywhere but they do also have a distinct disadvantage in that no modern Intel processor actually executes the instructions it is given. The x86 instruction set has remained the same for backwards compatibility purposes but now when an instruction comes into the CPU the modern CPUs translate that into micro ops that are actually executed. This translation takes extra silicon which costs money and requires power as well as incurring a slight performance hit so it's conceivable that ARM, whose instructions are executed directly, would be able to beat Intel (if everything else was equal) as they do not have to pay these penalties. That said, again, all other things are NOT equal and Intel does have the best fabs and while doing that translation does incur penalties it also creates a level of abstraction that allows Intel to completely redesign the micro ops from processor to processor if they so desire whereas ARM will either need to stick with their current design or create a similar translation layer.

Asmodai said,

Intel actually has some of the best fabs on the planet and are no slouch in their designs so they aren't going anywhere but they do also have a distinct disadvantage in that no modern Intel processor actually executes the instructions it is given. The x86 instruction set has remained the same for backwards compatibility purposes but now when an instruction comes into the CPU the modern CPUs translate that into micro ops that are actually executed. This translation takes extra silicon which costs money and requires power as well as incurring a slight performance hit so it's conceivable that ARM, whose instructions are executed directly, would be able to beat Intel (if everything else was equal) as they do not have to pay these penalties. That said, again, all other things are NOT equal and Intel does have the best fabs and while doing that translation does incur penalties it also creates a level of abstraction that allows Intel to completely redesign the micro ops from processor to processor if they so desire whereas ARM will either need to stick with their current design or create a similar translation layer.

CISC has instructions that you would otherwise have to write by hand in RISC code.
Saying that RISC executes every instruction as it's written is true, however, it doesn't have complex instructions. x86 is loaded with complex instructions.
The translation talk is BS, since RISC code is larger and it will have to chug through more instructions to get to the same point as a CISC machine does.
What RISC wins in the lack of translation, it loses in the amount of code it has to load.
In the end, it's a tie when it comes to that.
RISC however, are less complex and therefore also less likely to contain hardware errors which are fixed by slow µcode updates on CISC processors.
So, RISC has fewer things that can go wrong.
But RISC doesn't actually win anything.
If the RISC processor lacks the instruction you want, then you will have to write instructions that do the same things. So more instructions to read and higher register usage etc etc
What it gains in not translating, it loses in the amount of instructions that need to be executed and registers to be used.

I wouldn't prefer one over the other.
I know some x86 assembly language and that the only reason I would have when I say that I prefer x86.

The game is still on!

Why can't MS start of with 64 bit, isn't Apple or Android already using 64 bit CPU? If I buy iPad or Nexus, I would theorically able to load window 8 RT? Assuming MS allow it to download the OS.

minster11 said,
Why can't MS start of with 64 bit, isn't Apple or Android already using 64 bit CPU? If I buy iPad or Nexus, I would theorically able to load window 8 RT? Assuming MS allow it to download the OS.

We can't download Windows RT, it's tightly controlled, more so than iOS or Android

I said "Assuming MS allow it to download the OS". Question remain, why did MS not start with 64bit on Surface?

thealexweb said,

We can't download Windows RT, it's tightly controlled, more so than iOS or Android

minster11 said,
Why can't MS start of with 64 bit, isn't Apple or Android already using 64 bit CPU?

No, all current ARM processors are 32-bit only.

minster11 said,
If I buy iPad or Nexus, I would theorically able to load window 8 RT? Assuming MS allow it to download the OS.

No, even if you could download it; for many reasons, secure boot, drivers, etc.

minster11 said,
Why can't MS start of with 64 bit, isn't Apple or Android already using 64 bit CPU? If I buy iPad or Nexus, I would theorically able to load window 8 RT? Assuming MS allow it to download the OS.

There are no 64bit ARM based processors yet, so there isn't a need as of yet to write 64bit ARM software. But when they do come, Microsoft will be ready (no doubt so will Apple and Google)

ok then, on to 64 bit go MS go...

Silver47 said,

There are no 64bit ARM based processors yet, so there isn't a need as of yet to write 64bit ARM software. But when they do come, Microsoft will be ready (no doubt so will Apple and Google)

Silver47 said,

There are no 64bit ARM based processors yet, so there isn't a need as of yet to write 64bit ARM software. But when they do come, Microsoft will be ready (no doubt so will Apple and Google)


There is a 64bit ARM processor already. It's called X-gene and it's by AppliedMicro.

Silver47 said,

There are no 64bit ARM based processors yet, so there isn't a need as of yet to write 64bit ARM software. But when they do come, Microsoft will be ready (no doubt so will Apple and Google)

The problem is that Google and Apple have not made any plans for 64bit, where Microsoft has.

The main problem is software. The way Android and iOS work and their development frameworks, there is NOT an easy 'transition' to a different architecture for a lot titles. Android will do a little bit better, however, iOS software will be a nightmare depending on how elegantly ARM 64bit handles 32bit code.

The other problem is in peripherals, even though there is not a lot available for Android or iOS. This driver problem will also affect builds of devices as well.

Microsoft on the other hand is essentially ready, not only from their push of 64bit driver technology years ago, but in how they have been planning for 64bit ARM for a while, and can even help migrate drivers.

thenetavenger said,

The problem is that Google and Apple have not made any plans for 64bit, where Microsoft has.

The main problem is software. The way Android and iOS work and their development frameworks, there is NOT an easy 'transition' to a different architecture for a lot titles. Android will do a little bit better, however, iOS software will be a nightmare depending on how elegantly ARM 64bit handles 32bit code.

The other problem is in peripherals, even though there is not a lot available for Android or iOS. This driver problem will also affect builds of devices as well.

Microsoft on the other hand is essentially ready, not only from their push of 64bit driver technology years ago, but in how they have been planning for 64bit ARM for a while, and can even help migrate drivers.


While a native code development kit does exist the standard Android Framework, like JAVA and .NET is virtual machine based. An apk (Android application) is not compiled to native code but an intermediate code much like Java bytecode or .Net MSIL. This means that if the virtual machine the program is running on is 64bit then ALL existing Android applications should automatically run as 64bit apps on a 64bit virtual machine unless it does indeed use native code or some flag is set to tell it not to. Android is thus VERY well positioned to convert to 64bit as is RT and puts Apple with it's native development at a disadvantage. Apple apps will all have to be re-released with 64bit versions in order to run 64bit. This is not necessary though as 64bit ARM is fully backward compatible just like the switch from 32bit to 64bit on Intel/AMD. I suspect Android will have a 64bit version as early as Google I/O next year (Key Lime Pie) or 2014 at the latest. On the driver front Android at the kernel level is Linux based which already supports 64bit ARM.

Asmodai said,

While a native code development kit does exist the standard Android Framework, like JAVA and .NET is virtual machine based. An apk (Android application) is not compiled to native code but an intermediate code much like Java bytecode or .Net MSIL. This means that if the virtual machine the program is running on is 64bit then ALL existing Android applications should automatically run as 64bit apps on a 64bit virtual machine unless it does indeed use native code or some flag is set to tell it not to. Android is thus VERY well positioned to convert to 64bit as is RT and puts Apple with it's native development at a disadvantage. Apple apps will all have to be re-released with 64bit versions in order to run 64bit. This is not necessary though as 64bit ARM is fully backward compatible just like the switch from 32bit to 64bit on Intel/AMD. I suspect Android will have a 64bit version as early as Google I/O next year (Key Lime Pie) or 2014 at the latest. On the driver front Android at the kernel level is Linux based which already supports 64bit ARM.

Pretty much, but don't forget how linux deals with drivers. Each of the hardware vendor will most likely have to re-write a lot of their phone drivers as they simply will not work. As for apps, Android will be ok only because of its non-native code setup. iOS, probably not going to happen, for a long time anyway.

Asmodai windows 8 works on arm already. look at the surface rt. Its only 32bit though. they are workling with microsoft to add 64bit capability.

majortom1981 said,
Asmodai windows 8 works on arm already. look at the surface rt. Its only 32bit though. they are workling with microsoft to add 64bit capability.

What in my comment made you believe I was unaware that WindowsRT was on 32bit ARM? Perhaps I worded it badly but a big part of my point was that MS needs to get onto 64bit ARM for Servers and thus WinRT (32bit ARM) is an important first step and the 64bit RT the article speaks of is another.

good news.
I'm shocked at the end of 2012 how few people have adopted the 64bit arch.
You see the usual stupid excuses as to why <insert name dev's> won't do it..
Its not that hard I've ported my own code and other large open source projects to x64
so i know first hand how lazy these idiots are.

Examples ?
Winamp.
Why do they ignore basic functionality in almost all portables only to add weak Android support and other random crap when they can't make the original code work.
Learn to walk before competing in marathons..

Emule.
Not much excuse here.
Myself and others have ported the code base and all 3rd party lib's.
But its refused by the dev's that control their dying project.

Firefox.
Nightly x64 for how many years ?
Good god come on Mozilla jeez !
And same as winamp and many other dev's around the planet they are far more interested in adding some new crap than dealing with existing stuff first. Such as working on known bugs or platform support (x64)

Lavalys Everest / Aida64
Not sure what their problem is but it's been MANY years..
anytime now guys

I think they all care too much about adding stuff to their programs
or following trends. I know making my own programs it can be tempting
to add a new feature rather than doing the boring work.

Sorry but I think you have misunderstood the concept of 64-bit. Why would winamp ever need to be compuled in 64-bit ? Is it like it's going to address more than 4Gb memory ? I have compiled my apps in 64-bit, but you know what ? It consumes more memory and runs slower ? I guess you know why. I switched back to 32-bit. Just like Microsoft Office is still running 32-bit. Just like Visual Studio itself is still running 32-bit!!! There is an office 64-bit but Microsoft does not recommend it.

corven22 said,
Sorry but I think you have misunderstood the concept of 64-bit. Why would winamp ever need to be compuled in 64-bit ? Is it like it's going to address more than 4Gb memory ? I have compiled my apps in 64-bit, but you know what ? It consumes more memory and runs slower ? I guess you know why. I switched back to 32-bit. Just like Microsoft Office is still running 32-bit. Just like Visual Studio itself is still running 32-bit!!! There is an office 64-bit but Microsoft does not recommend it.

64bit apps don't necessarily run slower. They have access to more registers and other tweaks that should allow them to run FASTER in some cases. Starting with Windows Server 2008 R2 MS doesn't even offer a 32bit version of its Server OS. It's certainly not necessary to immediately update all applications to 64bit but if you're migrating everything else there then it's not horrible to have everything on your systems 64bit. Oh and I have the 64bit version of Office and have had zero issues with it.

corven22 said,
Sorry but I think you have misunderstood the concept of 64-bit. Why would winamp ever need to be compuled in 64-bit ? Is it like it's going to address more than 4Gb memory ? I have compiled my apps in 64-bit, but you know what ? It consumes more memory and runs slower ? I guess you know why. I switched back to 32-bit. Just like Microsoft Office is still running 32-bit. Just like Visual Studio itself is still running 32-bit!!! There is an office 64-bit but Microsoft does not recommend it.

Microsoft doesn't recommend the 64-bit version because most of the add-ins for office are still 32-bit.

Abhinav Kumar said,

Microsoft doesn't recommend the 64-bit version because most of the add-ins for office are still 32-bit.

And thus they will remain if no one ever upgrades to the 64bit version of Office. I'm not saying 64bit is best for everyone but coven22's post made it sound like it was a dumb idea and I for one would really like to get to a point where I don't have two have two different program files directories, sets of plug-ins, drivers, etc. and so I try to go 64bit whenever I can.

It could be worse.

I ran into a PHP plugin that was compiled for 64-bit mac / Linux.
But there was no 64-bit for Windows because PHP is not officially 64-bit on Windows (???).

So I wasted hours installing WAMP, content management system, plugins just to be slapped by a bunch of backward elitist mother-f*ckers.

Windows 9 should simple warn users if they try to install 32-bit stuff - "This program may not work".

AppliedMicro already has 64bit ARM Silicon in testing with parterns such as Dell, Red Hat, Oracle, etc. (a full LAMP stack) for use in high density, power conscious, server farms. AMD just announced the would be making 64bit ARM CPUs and while they too are initially targeting servers it isn't a big stretch to assume they will launch a Tegra competitor SoC with a multi-core 64bit ARM CPU coupled with ATI Graphics based GPU. Microsoft NEEDS to get Windows on ARM ASAP or it's going to lose large segments of the market. I don't like RT because of it's "walled garden" but it's an important step in getting Windows on ARM (especially Windows Pone and Server) and getting apps developed in .NET where the same "binary" can run on x86 or ARM, 32bit or 64bit

Asmodai said,
AMD just announced the would be making 64bit ARM CPUs and while they too are initially targeting servers it isn't a big stretch to assume they will launch a Tegra competitor SoC with a multi-core 64bit ARM CPU coupled with ATI Graphics based GPU.

Won't happen, it would harm their x86 business a lot, they would make less profit i would have thought. Nvidia certainly will make some high-end desktop SoC's using arm though.

torrentthief said,

Won't happen, it would harm their x86 business a lot, they would make less profit i would have thought. Nvidia certainly will make some high-end desktop SoC's using arm though.


What won't happen? AMD already announced everything I said here:
http://www.amd.com/us/press-re...ress-release-2012Oct29.aspx

Except the Tegra competitor but I fail to see how that will harm their x86 business since right now they offer no phone oriented SoC at all.

Asmodai said,
(a full LAMP stack) for use in high density, power conscious, server farms.

Bit out of date there Dell already sell large ARM servers, or did a few years ago, a french host I was looking at last year used them, can't remember what the model names were but I could only find spec sheets dotted around the web and nothing on dell's site about ordering them

n_K said,

Bit out of date there Dell already sell large ARM servers, or did a few years ago, a french host I was looking at last year used them, can't remember what the model names were but I could only find spec sheets dotted around the web and nothing on dell's site about ordering them

Dell already sells large 32bit ARM server, not 64bit. The news here is the 64bit part.

Within five years or so I think we could see Arm tablets, with Nvidea's Tegra having doubled in power ever year since launch it won't be long before we have a CPU that it adequate for most people and that is battery friendly