Intel's recently released low-power Atom processor Bay Trail platform already offers hardware support for 64-bit addressing, plus on-chip acceleration of certain graphics and cryptography functions in double-precision. Bay Trail based tablets with Google Inc.'s (GOOG) popular Android mobile operating system are expected to start this holiday season at $150 USD.
As with ARM Holdings plc's (LON:ARM) push for 64-bit (which Apple, Inc. (AAPL) was the first OEM to heed, with its 64-bit A7 SoC), a key reason for Intel's push appears to be software compatibility. While tablets don't typically have more than 4 GB, and thus technically don't need 64-bit from an addressing standpoint, that's expected to change within a couple of years when today's laptop technology (8-16 GB in high-end models) trickles down to ultra-mobile market. 64-bit also allows faster register operations on big data I/O such as 4K video. By introducing 64-bit now, the industry is preparing in advance for this shift from a firmware/programming perspective.