There is no doubt some who are doubting Apple’s strategy of transitioning from using Intel’s x86 processors to ARM-based chipsets. Intel’s processors have long dominated the computer scene, while ARM is mostly used in mobile devices. However, if there was ever a case to be made, Fugaku might be a name to take note of.
Fugaku, for those unfamiliar, is the name of a supercomputer developed by Riken and Fujitsu over in Kobe, Japan. It is powered by an ARM chipset made by Fujitsu and has managed to take the number one spot in the biannual Top500 supercomputer speed ranking. According to the Top500 HPL benchmarks, Fugaku manages 415.5 petaflops which is about 2.8 times faster than IBM’s Summit.
At the moment, the computer is mainly used for COVID-19 related processing, where it helps with research, simulation of the virus, and also the effectiveness of Japan’s contact tracing app. It is expected to go into full operation in the next fiscal year.
While Apple’s ARM-based computers will most likely not be as powerful, it does highlight the use of the ARM architecture for building computer processors. Due to its system-on-a-chip nature, it does do away with some of the limitations one might find with x86 processors, such as thermal issues.
While there is no doubt that ARM has the potential to be incredibly powerful, as a consumer-based company, Apple has other obstacles to overcome in order to convince customers to adopt it, such as ensuring that most of the apps that users are familiar with are compatible on their new chipset.