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What does “death” of 32-bit iOS for future hardware and software Apple

IOS release 10.3 on the iPhone and iPad makes it clear that 32-bit applications will soon be in the past. In fact, the move to 64-bit architecture is a long time – all apps and updates sent to the App Store from mid-2015 must support 64 bit. Soon Apple will take the last step to completely abandon support for 32-bit code.

If you put aside the fact that this is the end for legacy applications and games that have not been updated, it will become clear that a full transition to 64-bit platform is a unique technical achievement for the entire industry.

As Apple abandoned 32-bit architecture:

  • September 2013: Apple announces iPhone 5s – the first smartphone on market with 64-bit Apple A7 processor. iOS 7 is the first 64-bit mobile OS.
  • October 2013: Announced iPad Air and iPad mini 2. Both built based on Apple A7.
  • March 2014: Apple has released iOS 7.1. It fixes the majority associated with memory failures on 64-bit iOS.
  • September 2014: debuted the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple A8 processor is the second 64-bit processor Apple. The company withdrew from the sale of the iPhone 4s, making the iPhone 5c the latest 32-bit iPhone.
  • October 2014: iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Both work on a 64-bit processor (A8X and A7, respectively). Discontinued selling the iPad 4. The original iPad mini is the latest of 32-bit iPad.
  • February 2015: everything sent to the App Store approval new applications must have 64-bit support.
  • June 1, 2015,All app updates submitted to the App Store must include 64-bit versions.
  • 19 Jun 2015: Apple discontinues the iPad mini. 32-bit iPad sold only marked “Refurbished” (restored).
  • 9 September 2015: Apple introduces iPhone 6s and 6s Plus stops selling 32-bit iPhone 5c, the bar is 64-bit iPhone 5s. All new iPhones are now 64-bit.
  • June 13, 2016: Apple announces iOS 10. The beta version of the operating system begins to alert when launching the app is 32-bit. In the final version of this note disappears. iOS 10 comes out for devices with Apple A5 processor. So the Apple A6 and A6X were the last supported 32-bit chips.
  • 24 Oct 2016: iOS 10.1 it returns a warning about 32-bit applications.
    27 Mar 2017: iOS 10.3. One of the functions – new section with a list of 32-bit applications, which, as noted, “will not work in future versions of iOS”.
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To this list we can add a couple of assumptions. In June at WWDC Apple will unveil iOS 11, which refuses to support 32-bit and the remaining 32-bit devices (iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPad 4). In September, when will be released the final version, along with it will debut a new iPhone, which cannot run legacy programs with 32-bit code. This opinion is shared by famous developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who regularly finds a hidden functionality in iOS. The assumption of the programmer is not yet confirmed, but the likelihood that Apple will abandon support for 32-bit applications in new devices great.

The lack of support for 32-bit devices and software will allow Apple to better control its own software and hardware. Set 64-bit instruction ARM, also known as AArch64, is unique in that is completely separate from the 32-bit instruction set (ARMv7-compatible) AArch32. In the PC world x86-64 architecture was designed with the purpose of backward compatibility, which gave her the edge over is only compatible with 64 bits architecture Intel Itanium. As a result, the transition PC to the 64-bit platform was delayed for several years. Even today, every PC x86 support 32 – and 16-bit code, while working with him very rarely.

Since the ARM parts of the user 32-bit and 64-bit, and Apple has complete control over iOS and the ecosystem, the company could become the first in the world, who built the architecture of the ARM processor support only 64-bit code.

From the point of view of hardware, it could mean the release of space in a hypothetical power system A11 for larger number of cores, increasing the area of the CPU, enhancing performance graphics co-processor, etc. Such a move for other manufacturers is practically unheard of – the majority of processors in the Android ecosystem, or use a core processor ARM Cortex, or designs based on the Cortex. To ensure maximum compatibility, ARM, with high probability, will not produce chips without the support 32 bits. At least in the foreseeable future.

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Even if that happens, Apple could achieve optimization at the software level, will benefit and models with hardware support for 32-bit applications. By eliminating 32 bit Apple will be able to remove unnecessary code from iOS and 32-bit software libraries and other things that allow 32-bit applications to run on 64-bit iOS. This will help to reduce the amount of memory that can be used for iOS 11, and expedite the work of the platform, since iOS do not have to download 32-razriadnyi library.

Will tell whether Apple publicly about these benefits, we can only guess. However, this will be the first consumer operating system that is not only switched from 32-bit to 64-bit, and completely dropped support for the obsolete architecture than can not boast of 64-bit Windows, macOS, Linux and other operating systems.

Even if visible benefits for users and Apple is relatively small, the fact remains: only one company in the world has sufficient control over its hardware and software to realize these benefits.

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