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; AArch32 supports the existing ARM instruction set. According to ARM, ARMv8 will support or extend capabilities found in the current ARMv7 architecture, including NEON-advanced SIMD -- a combined 64- and 128-bit instruction set for accelerating media and signal-processing applications -- and TrustZone virtualization.
That TrustZone technology represents another advantage for ARM. It's a set of baked-in security extensions that deliver hardware-based access control through two virtual processors. TrustZone enables individual application cores to switch between states, depending on whether it's operating in a trusted or untrusted environment. The technology is suited for such enterprise-oriented applications as secure near-field communications, digital rights management, and accessing cloud-based documents.
ARM also has demonstrated its grasp on injecting energy efficiency into its chip architecture, critical not only on battery-powered mobile devices, but also in data centers as companies struggle to contain the costs of powering and cooling machines in the face of increasing demand for compute and storage. ARM's announcement regarding ARMv8 cited praise from customers (in the form of canned quotes) to that effect: "The current growth trajectory of data centers, driven by the viral explosion of social media and cloud computing, will continue to accelerate. The ability to handle this data increase with energy-efficient solutions is vital," said Vinay Ravuri, vice president and general manager of AppliedMicro's processor business unit. "The ARM 64-bit architecture provides the right balance of performance, efficiency, and cost to scale to meet these growing demands."
Another potential boon for would-be ARM adopters in the enterprise: The ARMv8 architecture will work across 32- and 64-bit application areas, according to the company, thus enabling high-end computing while supporting backward compatibility and migration for existing software.
ARM has already made the ARM compiler and Fast Models with ARMv8 support available to select partners. ARM will disclose processors based on ARMv8 during 2012, with consumer and enterprise prototype systems expected in 2014.
This story, "ARM's 64-bit ambitions spell more trouble for Intel and AMD," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.