Job listing indicates Apple exploring open-source Arm alternative

"Apple is currently looking for experienced programmers with detailed knowledge of the RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) and Arm's Neon vector ISA for its Vector and Numerics Group (VaNG) within its Core Operating Systems group."

What you need to know

  • A new job listing indicates Apple is exploring a major change to its chip architecture.
  • The company is looking for programmers experienced with RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture.
  • The emerging technology could one day see Apple no longer paying money to use Arm architecture.

A new job listing at Apple indicates the company is exploring an emerging new chip architecture technology.

As noted by our good friends at Tom's Hardware:

Apple is in the process of switching its PCs to Arm-based SoCs, but the company might not be putting all its eggs into one basket, as it is also exploring the emerging open-source RISC-V architecture. This week the company posted a job alert for RISC-V high-performance programmer(s).

The job description seeks "an exceptional high-performance programmer" to be part of a team "which is implementing innovative RISC-V solutions and state of the art routines", supporting computation for things like machine learning, video processing, and more.

RISC-V is an emerging open-source architecture, but future implementation by Apple could allow it to build chips for devices like its best iPhones, Apple Watch, MacBooks, and iPads on an open-source architecture, rather than licensing technology from Arm at a cost. Apple uses Arm not just for chips like its Apple silicon M1 chip in the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 and MacBook Air with M1, but also for SSD controllers and in devices like the HomePod. As the report notes the emerging tech could really help Apple cut down costs in building products. However, it remains to be seen how far Apple could take the tech and whether it could be used across its product lineup, or just in certain situations.

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