Apple is looking to build chips using the open-source RISC-V architecture
Apple job posting hints at the use of RISC-V architecture in future chips
Since it is open-source, device makers who use it do not have to pay royalties or a licensing fee. Currently, Apple does pay a royalty to use ARM’s architecture. While RISC-V does deliver savings in energy consumption, it also does not support the performance level you see with ARM. Besides being more power efficient, RISC-V can lower the costs of manufacturing chips; with all of the ARM-based components used in Apple’s many devices, using the open-source RISC-V could save Apple millions of dollars each year.
RISC-V offers more efficient and faster execution of the CPU’s instructions
As for the job listing, Apple writes, “The Vector and Numerics Group is tasked with designing, enhancing and improving various embedded subsystems running on iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. The group is looking for an exceptional high performance programmer to complement the team and make a difference. As a member of our fast paced group, you will have the unique opportunity to delight and inspire millions of Apple’s customers every day.”
- 5+ years low-level algorithmic development in signal processing or machine learning primitives.
- Detailed knowledge of RISC-V Instruction Set Architectures (ISA) and vector ISA of ARM.
- Strong understanding of computational efficiency.
- Excellent coding skills in ASM and C.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
- Ability to manage multiple tasks and self-prioritize.
Obviously, a job like this requires a strong educational background in math, computer science, and computer engineering. While an advanced degree is preferred, you might be able to snag the job without it.
RISC-V is more energy-efficient, uses fewer transistors, and allows users to build cheaper chips
While Apple doesn’t seem prepared to make a wholesale change to RISC-V, it could decide to replace some of its ARM-built chips with new chips based on RISC-V. Regardless of what it has in mind, Apple is indeed looking for someone that can help it work with the open-source architecture. The description of the job states that “The programmer will work in a team that’s “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.”