The new 64-bit iPhone 5S isn't officially available yet but it hasn't stopped Samsung from saying that its next set of flagship handsets will also boast 64-bit processors, despite the fact that, for the moment at least, Android, the operating system used by all of Samsung's Galaxy range of phones, phablets and tablets, doesn't support 64-bit processors or applications.
In an interview with The Korea Times, Samsung's mobile business chief Shin Jong-kyun claimed that the company's upcoming phones would, like Apple's latest offering, be more powerful and faster. "Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality," Shin said.
So what's the big deal about 64-bit processors and applications? The simple answer is computing performance. All new Windows and Mac PCs use 64-bit architecture as heavy video and sound editing, 3D graphics packages and software applications such as Photoshop or Final Cut Pro literally eat up available RAM in order to work smoothly. A 64-bit processor allows a device to access and use greater amounts of RAM (4GB and upwards) whereas a 32-bit processor (the norm in all smartphones and tablets until Tuesday's iPhone launch) can only access up to 4GB of RAM, maximum.
Being able to use more RAM means being able not only to open and use existing apps much more quickly, the development will eventually enable smartphones and tablets to do the type of heavy lifting that we currently associate with computers, such as processing video, rendering images, or computer aided design. Even true CGI effects could be possible. But of course, bigger, more powerful chips are currently the domain of the desktop for one very good reason, they chew through electricity in the same way they do RAM.
Apple may be on the cusp of starting yet another personal computing revolution but it and its competitors will have to address battery technology first. However, because it is in complete control of its hardware, software and related services, it is likely to solve that problem before anyone else. The PC isn't dead, it's just been shrunk down to fit into a pocket.