It looks likely that the Nexus 9, and not a Nexus phone, is Google’s first 64-bit device

Benchmark tests of a reported HTC-built Nexus 9 tablet indicate that Nvidia’s 64-bit chip will power the slate. A photo of the test from TKTechNews, which has a reasonably good track record of accurate device leaks, clearly shows the dual-core “Denver” chip in the benchmark results.

With Google touting that Android L will be fully 64-bit capable when it launches later this year, this means the tablet could be the first Nexus device with a 64-bit chip.

HTC Nexus 9 benchmark CPU

This is interesting because earlier leaks of the next Nexus phone have shown a 32-bit processor, the [company]Qualcomm[/company] Snapdragon 805. Assuming that is the chip in Google’s upcoming Nexus 6 phone — or Nexus X, as it may be called — I questioned whether that made sense. As I wrote earlier this month:

The Snapdragon 805 processor is pretty cutting-edge at the moment, but it isn’t 64-bit compatible. The test phone was shown to be running Android L, which Google said in June would be fully 64-bit, complete with the new ART run-time. Assuming this device is the Nexus 6 — a possibility since Google does rotate through hardware partners for the Nexus line — why would it showcase Android L on a phone with a 32-bit processor?

I still don’t think this scenario makes sense, but Qualcomm’s own 64-bit chip strategy may be affecting Google’s decision here. The chip company decided to bring 64-bit compatibility to its mid-range processors before adding it to the high-powered silicon that a Nexus would likely use. As a result, the Snapdragon 808 and 810 chips — both of which support 64-bit computing — aren’t expected until late this year, with devices using them in early 2015.

tegra-k1-denverIf Google is debuting a 64-bit software platform this year, waiting on Qualcomm isn’t a good option. That leads me to think that if [company]Nvidia[/company]’s Denver chip is ready to go soon, it’s a Nexus 9 tablet and not a Nexus phone that will be used to highlight [company]Google[/company] Android L.

It’s also worth mentioning an Nvidia press release from earlier this month: The company stated in no uncertain terms that its Tegra K1 Denver chip will be the first 64-bit ARM processor for Android.