Apple Possibly Exploring Open-Source Alternative to Arm Architecture

Apple may be exploring the possibility of using an open-source alternative to the Arm architecture, which it’s been using in its products for decades.

According to a newly posted job alert, spotted by Tom Hardware, Apple is looking for an engineer that specializes in RISC-V, an open-source architecture instruction set that allows device makers to build their own chips without having to pay a license or royalty. Apple currently uses the Arm architecture in its products, and it pays the company a royalty fee to use its instruction set.

Apple’s job posting description states that the engineer will implement “innovative RISC-V solutions and state of the art routines” to Apple’s products. Specifically, Apple hopes prospective engineers will be able to work with the RISC-V instruction set, as well as have an understanding of Arm.

Tom Hardware theorizes that if Apple were to adopt the open-source instruction set of RISC-V, it may save the company money because it wouldn’t need to pay Arm a license fee for its instruction set.

Every Arm core requires Apple to pay a licensing fee to Arm, and since the number of cores for things like SSD controllers and smartwatches will only increase, so will Apple’s payments to Arm. As such, replacing at least some Arm cores with RISC-V cores could save Apple millions of dollars in royalty payments every year…

The job listing is a confirmation that Apple is exploring the use of RISC-V, but whether the company decides to implement the open-source technology remains to be seen. Apple’s reliance on Arm has increased in the past year as Apple is in the process of switching its Mac lineup to Arm-based processors rather than Intel.

Tag: Arm

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