Right now, almost all of Apple’s product lineup relies on ARM. This includes the A-series chipsets used for its iPhones as well as the M-series chipsets which was introduced last year for its Macs. Apple seems to be pretty committed to ARM, but now it looks like a job listing posted by Apple has revealed the company’s interest in RISC-V.
For those unfamiliar, RISC is an open source alternative to ARM, although ARM itself is based on RISC. One of the advantages of RISC is that it can reduce chip fabrication costs while also maximizing power efficiency, which brings us to why Apple might be interested in it.
Off the top of our heads, it would seem like using RISC means no longer having to pay a licensing fee to ARM for using their tech, but as 9to5Mac points out, that is not the case. Switching architectures is a massive undertaking and one that Apple would have done years before announcing the M1 Macs.
Instead, the job description seems to point towards Apple’s interest in RISC being used for machine learning, vision algorithms, and video processing. The job posting is also for Apple’s Vector and Numerics Group, which designs embedded subsystems within Apple’s products, so the interest and potential use of RISC could be as a supporting component, rather than a main one.
It is unclear what exactly will be the result of this, but it is interesting to take note of.