ARM makes 64-bit play for desktop and server business

New ARMv8 architecture chips to arrive in time for Windows 8
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British chip designer ARM announced a new 64-bit instruction set designed to support the arrival of the ARM compatible Windows 8.

Dubbed ARMv8, the architecture builds on the ARMv7 used in the current generation of chips such as the Cortex-A9, adding 64-bit instructions and virtual addressing.

Microsoft strategic silicon architectures manager K.D. Hallman welcomed the 64-bit ARM, adding: "ARM is an important partner for Microsoft, we look forward to witnessing this technology's potential to enhance future ARM-based solutions."

It's not just new ARM-powered desktop computers and tablet devices that are expected to benefit from the new ARMv8 architecture. In a joint release it was revealed that AppliedMicro will move to create cloud servers based on the new ARM architecture.

Citing growth in data centers, driven by social networking and cloud computing, AppliedMicro processor manager Vinay Ravuri said: "The ARM 64-bit architecture provides the right balance of performance, efficiency and cost to scale to meet these growing demands."

Actual processors based on the ARMv8 architecture will only be announced next year. The announcement appears to herald another battlefront between desktop CPU vendors Intel and AMD and CPU IP license outfit ARM.

While Intel and AMD have themselves struggling to gain a foothold in the ARM-dominated mobile business, ARM is apparently willingly to take to fight to the desktop and server markets too.

An interesting consequence could be that the desktop and server markets of the future may not merely feature one or two main processor brands but a great many.

ARM licenses processor IP to third party chip designers who spin up competing models integrating other features such as graphics and mobile radios.

Nvidia has already announced that the firm intends to market a chip based on ARM CPU cores in time for the arrival of the ARM-compatible Windows 8 operating system.

Although when Nvidia made that announcement it was expected that some degree of legacy Windows application would be provided for Windows 8 ARM but Microsoft later confirmed this will not be the case.

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