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What is 64-bit?

The first smartphone to hit the market with a 64-bit SoC was the iPhone 5S, but what is a 64-bit processor, and what benefits does it have?

In this day and age, almost everyone has a smartphone, with myriad companies like Apple, Google and Samsung offering up different devices that run on different operating systems.

However, even though most people own and use their smartphones every day, you may not know what makes up your phone, and the leaps in technology that have brought us to the speedy machines you use today.

In this article, we’re going to be running through what a 64-bit processor is and how it can impact the performance of your smartphone. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

What is 64-bit?

The term 64-bit refers to the way that a processor, or a CPU, will handle calculations. The term ‘bit’ refers to tiny units that have values of either 0 or 1, with these bits being manipulated by the processor and written into a PC’s memory in order to complete tasks.

This means that a 64-bit processor can process information and instruction in chunks of 64 bits, meaning that it can perform more calculations at once compared to a 32-bit processor since it has fewer bits to work with.

Smartphones that do house 32-bit processors can only work with data strings that consist of 32 characters, meaning they have a maximum range of around four billion numbers. Meanwhile, a 64-bit processor has a much larger range since it has a larger amount of digits available.

Ultimately, since there are more bits available on a 64-bit processor compared to a 32-bit one, it can process and analyse data much faster, making it the more efficient option out of the two.

The first smartphone to feature a 64-bit SoC (System on Chip) A7 processor came in the iPhone 5S, which used ARM v8 architecture, unlike the more recent iPhone 13 series, which comes with Apple Silicon’s own A15 Bionic chipset.

Apple claimed that this new processor offered much faster speed, with twice the power as the iPhone 5.

This meant that the iPhone 5S was now in line with the rest of the computing world, with Android phones following soon after. The first Android phone to pack a 64-bit processor was the HTC Desire 510, which came with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset.

What are the benefits of 64-bit processors?

Ultimately, the benefit of a 64-bit processor is its ability to handle more data and information than a 32-bit processor, due to its larger size. This allows an iPhone to take in more information and process it faster, leading to a faster response speed and a better performance overall.

Nowadays, a lot of technology features 64-bit processors, including laptops, PCs, and the latest consoles, like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/Series S. You will struggle to find a recent smartphone that uses a 32-bit processor, and in 2020 Microsoft announced that it will no longer be offering a 32-bit version of its operating system to new PCs.

Every Mac operating system since Mountain Lion, or v10.8, has been 64-bit, and generally, the world of technology is leaning away from 32-bit. This makes the recent benefits not as groundbreaking as it was when the iPhone 5S was launched in 2013, but it works better due to the integration of 64-bit apps.

Apps like Photoshop, iTunes, Chrome and Microsoft Office are all available in 64-bit, allowing the device you’re using – whether that be a smartphone, tablet or computer – to take advantage of the technology, making it more beneficial to people using their smartphone or laptop in their daily life.

Plus, 64-bit processors are fully compatible with 32-bit operating systems, meaning that if you need to download software that happens to be 34-bit, it should still work on your laptop or PC. The same can not be said for 32-bit operating systems, however, as not all of those processors can handle 64-bit systems, though you may find that some software is compatible.

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