Friday, October 21, 2011

Mac ARM'ed to the teeth?

Rumors of a Mac OS X migration to ARM processors are flowing from multiple reliable sources.  We hear from Jon Stokes' blog (now on Wired's Cloudline) of some evidence that Mac OS X was running on Intel hardware from the beginning, long before it was determined that Mac would switch to x86 (thereby removing most backward compatibility).  It is now believed that there is a similar port being maintained again, but this time for ARM processors.

That Cortex A15 review indicates that performance will be on par with a 2Ghz Core 2 Duo (3-issue superscalar 15-stage pipeline).  Although Intel achieved this performance over 5 years ago, the chip is admirably about half as fast as the very fastest processors at serial processing (typical of laptop processors) which comprise the vast majority of applications.  At 32nm the ARM processor could be expected to do so at around 5 watts per core at peak, opening the way for speculation of its debut in the Mac Book Air.

Charlie at SemiAccurate seems to think it a certainty, though betting on a successor to the A15 somewhere around 2015 (this was also speculated about a year ago as well).

The processor wars are heating up thanks to the increased importance of power efficiency.  If things continue to go the way they are, I wonder if the DoJ will end up allowing ARM to acquire AMD?

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