A former Apple intern, now a full-fledged Apple engineer, used the experience of porting the underpinnings of OS X to an ARM architecture as the basis of a paper. Until now, it was under embargo, but some details have emerged.[quote] Initially subject to an embargo, but just recently published, the paper was written as part of a Bachelor degree thesis in 2010 by Tristan Schapp. It details the technical aspects and challenges associated with getting Darwin, which underpins OS X, to work effectively on the ARM architecture.[/quote]
Of course, iOS uses ARM chips already, so this isn’t much of a surprise. This isn’t OS X’s first port in any case. Famously, Apple switched from the PowerPC architecture in 2006 to Intel’s x86 platform. While Intel is incredibly dominant in the space of traditional desktops and laptops, they just haven’t been able to compete with ARM’s low powered mobile processors.
This isn’t indicative of a move away from Intel for Macs any time in the immediate future. That said, Apple would be foolish not to hedge their bets by maintaining a version of OS X for ARM. Unless Intel steps up its game substantially, we could be looking at a future where ARM chips power the desktop as well as phones and tablets. We’re already seeing Microsoft shift away from their once notorious relationship with Intel.
Do you think ARM-based MacBooks will ever be a reality? Is Intel is serious trouble? Sound off in the comment section. This is a topic with a lot of angles to discuss. We want to hear your thoughts.