Apple And Microsoft - Brothers In ARM?
Recent reports indicate that Apple is looking to switch allegiances from Intel-manufactured microprocessor chips to those from UK maker ARM for their laptop, iPhone and iPad products.
ARM chips have traditionally be useful in low power devices such as smart phones, portable video games and the like. In 2009 about 90% of embedded RISC computers were ARM devices. RISC stands for "Reduced Instruction Set Computer", a technology that can be beneficial in those sorts of applications where battery life is an important consideration.
ARM currently uses a 32-bit instructions set, but is anticipated to have a full 64-bit product available in a couple of years, which appears to be the timeline Apple is working around. Before Apple moved to Intel processors a few years ago, it had used another RISC-type processor, the PowerPC.
The thinking is that Apple with then have a common processor technology across their line of portable products, which would presumably simplify development for those platforms.
Interestingly, at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft announced that it's forthcoming new Windows version (referred to as "Windows 8") would also support ARM processors, which is a departure from prior Windows versions. There has been some speculation (generated by a possibly leaked Dell roadmap) that a Windows 8 ARM version for portable devices might be released before the desktop version.
So, we appear to have a situation where both Apple and Microsoft are embracing ARM technology to at least some degree - and possibly quite soon, in the case of Microsoft.