Intel introduced the 8-bit microprocessor back in the 1970s, the 16-bit processor in the 1970s, the 32-bit processor in the 1980s and had to be kicking and screaming to introduce 64-bit processors, chasing AMD, in the 2000s. That’s about a decade a doubling. ARM designed with 32-bits in the 1980s but made the move to 64-bit in 2011. Now, smartphones are using 64-bitness with a mess of models planned for 2014.
In desktop PCs there was little reason to go to 64-bit when it was introduced except that it was a quick way to double throughput for some operations. On the whole it barely bumped up performance at all and consumed a lot of resources. For smartphones, a quick doubling in performance will eliminate the last hesitation of users to respect their power. It also means that manufacturers envision exceeding the 2^32 memory limit and perhaps running virtual machines. The server people are drooling over the possibilities of gazillions of small cheap ARMed CPUs in their servers capable of running huge RAM and virtual machines.
The beauty of this is that while Intel used to charge ~$1K or some such premium prices for new models, ARM is happy to accept a few cents per copy (Q3 Revenue ($m) 286.7 for 2.5 billion ARM-based chips shipped means less than ~$1 per CPU and manufacturing rights are perpetual…) and hardware makers and users get the performance bump from 64-bitness for almost nothing, accelerating adoption. “ARMâ€™s strategy is for our technology to continue to gain share in long-term structural growth markets such as mobile phones, consumer electronics and embedded digital devices. To date, ARM has licensed its technology over 1000 times to more than 350 ARM partners, who have shipped over 45 billion ARM-based chips.” Good luck, Wintel. This technology will be taking share of the desktop and servers really soon and running all kinds of Linux operating systems.