Apple wants to use RISC-V, we tell you why

Apple wants to use RISC-V, we tell you why

A recent job offer published by Apple has raised all the alarms, and has generated a significant stir, since it indicates that the apple company is considering the possibility of using RISC-V , an architecture that, as many of our people will know. readers, allows you to create processors that fall into the category of free hardware , since it does not involve the payment of any type of license.

That is precisely Apple’s main motivation, not having to pay for licenses. I put you in a situation so that you can better understand all this. The Cupertino company has been looking for a way to reduce both its dependence on third parties and its costs . It is no coincidence, it is something perfectly premeditated, since by reducing this dependence on third parties you can control your own products much better, and by reducing costs you maximize the income you obtain for each unit sold.

Before Apple launched the SoC M1, there were many rumors that this chip, which we then knew as Apple A14X , was going to cost approximately $ 75 , while a Core i3-10110U cost Apple, in orders 1,000 units, about $ 281. I wanted to give this example so that you can see why the transition to ARM has been so important for Apple in terms of cost reduction.


It goes without saying that, in addition, the apple company has also been able to better control the renewal cycles of its products , and has the opportunity to dose the innovations that it introduces in the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac mini at will. If we do numbers, the millions of dollars that Apple has been able to save with the M1 SoC is dizzying, and more than justifies the investment that the giant had to make to carry out its development.

Apple wants to use RISC-V

Apple doesn’t like paying licenses to use ARM

That is the key behind Apple’s interest in the RISC-V architecture, the desire to reduce its dependence on ARM, and the license expense it has to assume to be able to use this architecture in its M1 chips. Each ARM core that Apple uses requires a license fee , which means that the more cores you use, the more money you pay.

If we put that into perspective, we see that if Apple decides to increase the cores of its M-series SoCs it will have to assume a greater outlay in royalties to ARM, something that, obviously, the apple company does not like, and that could considerably reduce its costs. long-term income . This is where the RISC-V architecture would come into play, although not as a solution to face a total transition, but rather as a “patch” with which to reduce costs.

Ditching ARM entirely to adopt RISC-V is a very unrealistic strategy, and frankly it doesn’t seem feasible to me, at least for now. However, what Apple could carry out is a hybrid design , that is, it could create a CPU with an ARM core block with its classic customization layer, which are capable of offering a very high performance, and accompany it with a block of low-power, lower-performance cores based on RISC-V.

As we said at the beginning, Apple has to pay money for each ARM core that it uses, so when transforming, for example, the configuration of a supposed M1X SoC to 8 high-performance cores (ARM) and 4 low-power cores (RISC -V), the company that Tim Cook runs would be saving the license fee for these four high-efficiency cores. By itself it represents a minimal expense, but when we multiply it by several million units sold, things change, a lot.

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