As per a new job description, Apple is exploring RISC-V instruction set architecture. Currently, Apple uses its own custom silicon in all its products, except for a few Macs which it is in the process of transitioning to its Arm-based chips.
The company is known for thinking ahead and its new job description for its Vector and Numerics Group (VaNG), spotted by Toms Hardware, shows that it is already exploring the potential of other architectures. RISC-V is an open-source architecture and unlike Arm architecture, does not require any license fees to be paid for its use.
RISC-V open-source architecture could find its way to Apple products soon
The job posting on Apple’s website details requirements for low-level algorithmic development experience in signal processing or machine learning primitives as well as detailed knowledge of RISC-V ISA or ARM vector ISA.
The successful candidate will have excellent understanding and knowledge of RISC-V ISA architecture along with working knowledge of NEON micro architecture in ARM CPU cores from a vector programming perspective.
The listing goes on to say that programmers will work in a hardware and software cross-functional team which is implementing RISC-V solutions and state-of-the-art routines. These will support computation for machine learning, vision algorithm, signal and video processing, all of which are used across a range of Apple products, and could potentially be useful for future rumored products such as AR/VR headsets or Apple Car.
Apple is also looking for programmers who can craft the fastest and most energy-efficient routines for RISC-V and ARM CPU cores, which is unsurprising as energy efficiency is usually Apple’s top priority when it comes to its chips.
RISC-V is currently used for various embedded applications due to its low power usage, as well as IoT devices, automobiles, and even computer graphics
A potential reason for Apple to explore RISC-V could be Nvidia’s possible acquisition of Arm, which is facing opposition from most of the industry. In the unlikely circumstances that it goes through, Apple, like other Arm customers, would not be happy and will likely want to work on alternatives that do not require them to pay license fees to a competitor.