64-bit ARM support for Windows is in the works


— 6:00 AM on November 2, 2012

This should come as no surprise, but it's noteworthy nonetheless. The folks at PC World have gotten confirmation that ARM is working with Microsoft on Windows support for its 64-bit architecture. Details are few and far between right now, but ARM Program Manager Ian Forsyth told the site, "ARM works with all its OS and ecosystem partners to inform them on next generation technologies and enable their support."

As we learned earlier this week, ARM's first 64-bit cores, the Cortex-A50 series, are scheduled to ship inside next-generation system-on-a-chip devices in 2014. The cores are based on the ARMv8 architecture, which introduces 64-bit memory addressing and a new instruction set.

Licensees of the Cortex-A50 series include AMD, which announced on Monday that it's going to offer ARM-based Opterons in 2014. The company hasn't said anything about ARM-based consumer chips yet, but if Windows support is in the cards, I expect we may see some ARM-powered APUs eventually. Such APUs could fuel not just tablets, but also full-sized notebooks and desktops.

That said, even with newer and faster ARM-based processors, Windows software compatibility could remain a thorny issue. Windows RT lacks support for x86 software, and as Pund-IT analyst Charles King tells PC World, "From a purely technical perspective, porting many common x86 applications to ARM is problematic." That could impede adoption regardless of how appealing the hardware turns out to be.

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