My understanding is that ARM generally has kept pretty strong source-level compatibility, and that includes at the assembly level (a few esoteric CPxx registers notwithstanding). So, if I've optimized some algorithm in ARM v5 assembly, lets say, I have a pretty good chance of running that code on ARM v7 with at most a recompile, but quite likely just a relink.
That's at least my understanding. If that weren't true, then it seems like ARM could have shed more baggage more often. After all, ARMv7 still "supports" Jazelle (albeit with a "null" implementation) for example. Why would it need to, unless there's the expectation of running some ARMv5J binaries?
If the ARMv8 AArch64 code is as different as everyone's saying, then it's not clear that you'll be compatible at the assembly level at all. You may be compatible at the C/C++ level, except in cases where pointer sizes break you. Porting may be vaguely sane, but I suspect still a bigger chore than moving among existing 32-bit ARM variants.
In any case, I imagine the first year or two of ARMv8 hardware will come with 32-bit OSes, or at least 32-bit userlands on 64-bit kernels if ARMv8 supports that, until the software stabilizes.
I guess it's time for me to start reading up on ARMv8, eh? *sigh* I just finished absorbing a couple thousand pages of docs on ARM Cortex-A15 and the current round of AXI/ACE protocols....
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