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Wednesday, October 02, 2013, 08:04 am PT (11:04 am ET)

Apple partner Qualcomm pans iPhone 5s A7 CPU as 'gimmick,' yet hints at own 64-bit chip

A senior vice president for Apple supplier Qualcomm says the 64-bit A7 chip in Apple's iPhone 5s is more a marketing gimmick than a development that will lead to real consumer benefits, but at the same time appeared to hint that the chip maker is planning a future 64-bit processor of its own.



"I know there's a lot of noise because Apple did [64-bit] on their A7," said Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, in an interview with Techworld. "I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that."

Apple has played up the possibilities inherent with a 64-bit mobile processor, saying that 64-bit apps "almost always" run better on such architecture. Such claims, though, have been met with skepticism from many in the tech industry, with Chandrasekher being the latest among those.

The Qualcomm VP pointed out that 64-bit processors are most useful in addressing memory quantities above 4GB, whereas the iPhone 5s has only 1 gigabyte of RAM. Consumer performance, Chandrasekher noted, would be largely unaffected, as the use cases most in need of 64-bit are large, server-class applications.

At the same time, though, Chandrasekher seemed to hint that Qualcomm — which supplies the LTE chips used inside Apple's mobile devices — would itself be rolling out a 64-bit mobile processor at some point in the future.

"From an engineering efficiency standpoint it just makes sense to do that," Chandrasekher said. "Particularly the OS guys will want it at some point in time."

Google's Android platform is also rumored to be moving to a 64-bit build in the future, though when exactly that might happen is unknown. Android is based on Linux, and some observers note that there shouldn't be any special development process necessary to tweak the platform to handle 64-bit processing power. Samsung — Apple's chief rival and the largest player in the Android segment — has already promised 64-bit chips for next year's line of flagship devices.