Apple has posted a new job listing, looking for “high performance” programmers who are versed in the RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) and have some degree of experience in the field — reports Tom’s Hardware.
With its 2020 lineup of MacBooks, Apple initiated a portfolio-wide transition from x86-based Intel processors to Arm-based silicon developed in-house by the tech giant itself. However, for every Arm core on a processor, controller, or any other component powering one of its products, Apple has to pay a licensing fee to Arm Ltd.
Apple currently plans on switching its entire Mac lineup over to Apple Silicon by 2022. Those licensing fees stack up quite high when you have a product catalog as expansive as Apple’s with processors going up to 32 cores.
RISC-V is a solution that can potentially save Apple millions of dollars in yearly royalty payments. Its emerging open-source architecture is designed to rival Arm, currently only viable for lower-performance applications.
With how fast the architecture is growing and improving, high-performance designs based on RISC-V are expected soon.
From the job listing, it is clear that Apple is already playing around with RISC-V. Once Apple succeeds in getting its implementations of Arm and RISC-V to ‘talk to each other’ smoothly, the company could supplement its main Arm-based computing cores with RISC-V cores instead of all of the cores being Arm, significantly reducing costs.
Here is an excerpt from the job posting:
You will work in a SW and HW cross functional team which is implementing innovative RISC-V solutions and state of the art routines. This is to support the necessary computation for such things as machine learning, vision algorithms, signal and video processing. Push the state of the art in low level computation and drive them towards energy efficient and high performance implementations by tightly integrating software and hardware.
While Apple wasn’t too descriptive about what its plans for RISC-V are, the job listing does say that hired individuals will be working with machine learning, computational vision, natural language processing, and video processing to develop innovative RISC-V solutions for both hardware and software.