Qualcomm executive dismisses 64-bit A7 as a "marketing gimmick"

Qualcomm executive dismisses 64-bit A7 at "marketing gimmick"

A Qualcomm executive has claimed that Apple's 64-bit A7 processor is a marketing ploy. Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, claims that there is no benefit to consumers from the processor being 64-bit. This is because the iPhone 5s only has 1GB of DRAM, a smaller amount that would necessitate a 64-bit processor, according to Techworld:

"Predominantly... you need it for memory addressability beyond 4GB. That's it. You don't really need it for performance, and the kinds of applications that 64-bit get used in mostly are large, server-class applications," said Chandrasekher, who previously ran Intel's mobile platforms group.

Chandrasekher's comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Qualcomm supplies the processors for hundreds of devices running Android and Windows phone, and it sounds like they won't be producing a 64-bit chip just yet. They have a vested interest in downplaying the importance of the A7. On the other hand, apps like djay 2 and vjay have been updated with faster audio analysis, precision key detection and key matching, and a host of HD video playback and recording improvements, all of which have been attributed to the A7's 64-bit processing.

Mike Ash analyzed the A7 and found that the reality landed somewhere in the middle. There are some significant gains that come from the A7's 64-bit processing, but it's not exactly a revolutionary step forward.

Consider as well that Apple rarely, if ever, markets on specs. There aren't any ads about the A7 chip. And there were never any ads for the A6, or A5, or A4, either. During their event last month, Apple said 64-bit, talked a little bit about performance and the secure enclave for Touch ID, and that's it. Most consumers ultimately don't care about specs. They don't care about the name of the chip or the fact that it's 64-bit. If Apple could get the iPhone 5s to run on a Dorito, consumers still wouldn't care. They just want their stuff to work.

Source: Techworld

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is a news reporter for iMore. He's also chilling out and having a sandwich.

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There are 44 comments. Add yours.

StuartV says:

"If Apple could get the iPhone 5s to run on a Dorito, consumers still wouldn't care"

Are you kidding?!?! Hellztotheyeah we would! Even I would buy one then! Mmmm! Nacho Cheese iPhone!

cycling56 says:

I'm with you, I'm hungry all ready.

kch50428 says:

Qualcomm exec would be signing a different tune had his company innovated it first... needs some cheese to go with his whine.

Linebarrel86 says:

So because Apple had Samsung and others build a chip that has few benefits currently....that's innovative?

This executive at Qualcomm is right: Right now, the 64bit talk is all for marketing.

I'm sure Apple will put this tech to use over the course of next year, maybe with their iPads or something. As of right now though...it's nothing but fluff to give Apple fans to crow about.

Sorta like how Android fans crow about their phone specs...

kch50428 says:

Leave innovating or not on the sideline... if Qualcomm had product on the street with the same features - they'd be crowing about it... instead, they "pee in the pool"...

Wyatt says:

Well here's some reading for you about 64-bit processors. (http://www.mikeash.com/pyblog/friday-qa-2013-09-27-arm64-and-you.html) And by the way it does more than address 4GB or more of RAM which anyone who knows anything about 64-bit architecture will tell you.

adriangalli says:

Yes, it is innovation. Look up the definition. I'm not sure where everyone gets this redefining words or ignoring clearly defined words when ever it suits them; it seems to run rampant on the Internet. You don't get to move the goal posts.

64-bit computing is no gimmick. Obviously. We have it now and it have changed what and how we do things on computers. Today it may be only utilized in a minor way but build it and they will come. If no one puts 64bit into a phone, then no one will ever have it. If no one ever has access to it then no one can ever utilize it. If someone puts it into a phone, someone will INNOVATE further and take advantage of it.

Sohail Shaikh says:

@adriangalli nice try to justify innovate :)

hspito says:

So, if the 64-bit is only talk, can somebody please explain to me how come the iPhone 5S (which is clocked at 1.3ghz) is 2X faster than the 5 (1.2ghz)? oh! and faster than a S4 and LG G2. By the way the LG G2 has a quad core 2.2ghz with 2gb of RAM. It seems like the 64-bit can do more than just market a phone.

dragonherder says:

I can explain this easily enough. It's little to do with the jump to 64 bit and more that fact that the A7 SoC is a jump from the ARMv7 architecture to ARMv8 which is quite a bit better and more efficient than the ARMv7 architecture. You will see this jump on android next year as well. (likely qualcomm has something in the works themselves) an architecture jump plus a speed bump of 100 mhz can make quite a difference. Look at a 2.8 ghz core2quad processor vs a haswell quadcore i5 at 2.8 the haswell will likely smoke it because of architecture changes even at the same speed.

Wyatt says:

No it's not that simple. It's a combination of architecture the new architecture, the 64-bit processor and how it and the software are tailor made for each other. These are things that Google can never accomplish with Android.

OrionAntares says:

64-bit affects two things, 64-bit arithmetic and addressing a memory space larger than 4GB. Those are the ONLY two things that are made more efficient with a 64-bit architecture. Everything else is effected by the basic architecture of the chip design itself. Register numbers (not the same as size), pathway bandwidth, component locations, etc.

StuartV says:

Not quite. 64 bit architecture also allows for a 64 bit instruction set, which can allow a CPU to get things done more quickly because for some instructions, the 64 bit version lets the CPU do everything in one cycle, where 32 bit would require additional cycles for the CPU to fetch the additional data.

That is why some computers were using 64 bit CPUs WAY before any of them had more than 4GB of RAM.

c_hack says:

Currently, the A7's largest benefit is that it uses and entirely new instruction set. The 64 bit architecture is an improvement that will be more and more evident over the years.

Given that Apple has a dual core chip that sips power and at the same time blows away Samsung's octo-core phones in speed sure as heck is innovative.

While the droid phones push specks without any forethought the way Intel pushed the Precott to 4 GHz, Apple is making chips that are both faster and more efficient.

That is one great "marketing gimmick".

dragonherder says:

This is actually harder to say if they are "faster and more efficient" chips OR the result of an OS that is predominately only optimized for a few hardware platforms at all. They aren't having to support a bunch of different platforms and it has been seen that iOS 7 has been lagging for a lot of people once "multitasking" was added into the mix. And can we please stop calling samsung's processor octo-core it is not at all though the upcoming exynos 5 that they are doing can actually make use of the cores diff but still not really the same thing. Anyways the jump up to ARMv8 gives apple a good edge at least til samsung, qualcomm, nvidia etc release their ARMv8 based chips next year and android too utilizes 64 bit (it is already fully capable of running either by design) So while i applaud them for having the first ARMv8 chip in a product the 64 bit as is is somewhat gimmicky and unecessary right now but that leap to ARMv8 should of been the focus really not the 64 bit.

Now back to what i was saying unless we see an iphone running android better than a nexus phone released around the same time (nexus 5) it is hard to place it soley on hardware design and not more software/OS optimizations. You keep in mind that Apple optimizes the crap out of iOS and lesser hardware on optimized software can do a lot more. Android's problem as it were is that most of the OEM's are rather lackadaisical in optimization like... AT ALL. Motorola optimized the Moto X and it runs really really well with the dual core processor inside of it (from qualcomm)

Wyatt says:

It's more than just OEMs bring lackadaisical. Android itself is slow and clunky requiring the beefiest of hardware to make it run smooth. No matter what OEMs do they can't change that. Google would have to scrap the current Android OS and actually start again from scratch like what Microsoft has did to go from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone but I don't see that happening since they bought this OS in the first place.

Nathan Bael says:

If Apple were making huge claims about 64 bit being the end-all and be-all then I would say it was mostly marketing gimmick. Really though they haven't made a huge deal of it. It is mentioned but not the selling point for the phone.

I agree with a lot of the other posts and feel that right now there isn't a lot of benefit to 64 bit, some, just not a lot. However, with tech companies, upgrades like this are usually part of a larger plan for the future.

Sohail Shaikh says:

Innovated 64bit? Do you know what you are talking about? 64bit processing has been going on for ages

OrionAntares says:

That depends on what you want to exclude from mobile.

CORYK333 says:

Ugh, always gotta be one.......

jaBBu says:

But if you want to increase the DRAM on the iPhone 9x beyone 4GB, then you want a 64-bit processor that you have working reliably in the real world. Doesn't it make sense in an ever increasing world where we demand more space and faster apps and .....

Incremental growth in an industry where lots of people buy the latest gadget. Today 64-bit processor tomorrow 4GB DRAM and within 2 years ???

Graham Steffaniak says:

But the iPhone 5 Only got 1GB of ram.

jaBBu says:

Yes, but in the tech world, I was taught not to try and upgrade everything at once. It becomes much harder to troubleshoot issues. Put in 64-bit processor now, go up to 2 or 3 GB of DRAM in the next generation iPhone, then move into 4 + GB beyond that. Hence my comment on the "iPhone 9x" by the time they get some real heavy duty internals (which they will need to run the heavy duty apps!).

Wyatt says:

Not to mention that due to the optimizations of the OS lots of RAM isn't necessary compared to the competition.

richard451 says:

"Consider as well that Apple rarely, if ever, markets on specs. There aren't any ads about the A7 chip."

Normally it's true, but not for the 5s and the A7. All one has to do is compare the pages for;
5S: http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/features/
5C: http://www.apple.com/iphone-5c/features/

Apple is more about marketing the specs the days.

Wyatt says:

While they are talking more about specs, feature lists on their own website is not marketing in the same way as if it were in a commercial. It's merely a list of specs that's no different from what any other manufacturer does. The old Verizon Droid commercials for example heavily touted the internal specs of the device which most people don't even pay attention to. Apple's commercials mention nothing about internal specs of the iPhone.

ernbrdn says:

Specs are an easy fall back when nothing really has changes. Colors, touch id, maybe camera a little, little else to toot a horn about other than the specs.

Sent from the iMore App

snookasnoo says:

This is a childish and unprofessional remark for Qualcomm who also have Apple as a customer. Just dumb.

Wyatt says:

Agreed. Unfortunately, we have people who will just follow along like lemmings with no knowledge of the subject saying the same thing.

Dev from tipb says:

There is a kernel of truth here, in that, for the current generation, the advantages are very small, such that most consumers will not notice them. Because they are small, Qualcomm decries this as a gimmick. But they are not non-existent, so Apple emphasizes it out of proportion to how much customers will benefit (or notice). That's marketing 101, on both sides.

However, by switching now, even when the benefits are small, Apple is very smartly setting themselves up for a long game. The most oft-cited benefit of 64bit is the ability to address more RAM. With a 1GB iPhone 5, that is irrelevant, but, at Apple's current pace, the iPhone will have 4GB in 2 years, or 3 at the most. The timing is no coincidence -- when memory benefits become significant, not only will internal and external developers will have had two years of working on this architecture, but the iPhone 5s will be the bargain-basement, free-on-contract model. On that day, every iOS device for sale -- and almost every one still in active use -- will be 64-bit, allowing Apple to make a clean software break at just the right time.

hspito says:

So, if the 64-bit is only talk, can somebody please explain to me how come the iPhone 5S (which is clocked at 1.3ghz) is 2X faster than the 5 (1.2ghz)? oh! and faster than a S4 and LG G2. By the way the LG G2 has a quad core 2.2ghz with 2gb of RAM. It seems like the 64-bit can do more than just market a phone.

jgraves1107 says:

The 64 bit chip does help improve battery life amongst other things that you take for granted. It is one of the things you just don't think will do much, but play with your video editing in 32 bit over 64 bit and see how long it takes to do it.

stewm says:

The statements by the Qualcomm Executive clearly indicates that THEY as a chip maker had not even anticipated having a 64 bit processor market yet and it really worries them. Not because of Apple but Samsung, who already produce their own chip designs and utilize them in many of their devices may take this chance to develop their own 64 bit processors and use them universally rather than just in some of their devices and even sell them other device makers cutting Qualcomm's market share.

In fact I can bet that they are nowhere near having a 64 bit processor and now they are in a position that they have device makers starting to look at developing 64 bit devices and asking about the status of such a processor and them not having anything to offer.

Ath0 says:

Maybe Apple should move away from the current Qualcomm LTE baseband they use on the iPhone.

Clearly Qualcomm is run by idiots and worse, have little respect for their customers.

It's uncanny how Apple attracts these companies who are quick to take their cash but then go on to publicly throw mud at their work.

Joseph Nelson Hernandez says:

iPhone 5s performs well and that's what everybody needs on a phone. It's as simple as that.

Sent from the iMore App

bsbharath1987 says:

Lot of flagship phones on other platforms also perform well for most people's needs. That's besides the point.

Domin4tor says:

So, I take it from Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, that Qualcomm are not planning 64-bit mobile chips for Android devices in 2014 and beyond?!? Get off your high-horse. Why the rattle throwing? Apple got there before you, did they? Boo-hoo.

cwbcpa says:

I am no expert so I won't chime in on how much or little of an effect the 64-bit chip has. Just like the article says, Apple isn't using the fact that the 5S has this chip in their marketing. They market the fact that the iPhone works and people love using their iPhones. The experience is top notch. I don't recall ever seeing a commercial where Apple touted the innards of the phone. If Qualcomm had a 64-bit chip and it was being used in the latest Android phone this would have never been said. This article really addressed the comment very well, IMO.

sting7k says:

Sounds almost exactly like Steve Balmer in 2007 just after the release of the iPhone.

prlundberg says:

It's no secret that 64-bit processors will become prevelant in mobile over the next year. The next Intel Atoms for tablets will also be 64-bit. Qualcomm surely knows this and has their own in the works.

He has a point. I don't need 64-bit in mobile. Heck, personally, I don't even need it on my PC. But this is the kind of thing that eventually drives progress forward. And really probably necessary if they want to continue to justify current premium smartphone prices.

Orbisman says:

Wow... So when PCs made the jump from 32bits to 64bits, that was all a "marketing gimmick" too? We've been bamboozled!!! Bring back 32bits! I don't want to pay for all that useless "marketing", and we probably won't notice ANY difference in the long run.

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Jay Imerman says:

No Doritos for me thanks, but could they try Organic tortilla or potato? Mmmm.