Job listing indicates Apple exploring open-source Arm alternative

Macbook Air M1
Macbook Air M1 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

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.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

2 Comments
  • Everyone including Intel has been looking to make RISC V SoCs. Many RISC-V SBCs right now are very cheap. Some even support AI.
  • For RISC, Right now it’s an ARM world. Some companies are looking at and utilizing RISC-V but super big names and much of the design/engineering are ARM. It’ll be interesting to see if RISC-V forces ARM to keep licensing fees down. ARM could be the way of the next 30 years but not with high fee licensing while RISC V is free. I’m guessing Appleis considering and exploring RISC-V for specific smaller devices not named IPhone Ipad or Mac. It’s not yet but it is pointing to one day being an ARM/RISC world where X86 steadily declines. Apple releasing the M series was a big domino to fall.