Apple’s rumored netbook/tablet to use ARM’s Cortex architecture?

ARM Apple

Computerworld’s Seth Weintraub sat down with Bob Morris, director of platform enablement for ARM’s mobile processor group, and came away with a wealth of information on the future plans for the ARM Cortex architecture. Though Morris did not speak directly about Apple, he did provide details that could lead one to theorize that Apple will be using the ARM architecture for its much-rumored Mac netbook/tablet. An inset on a PowerPoint slide showing a very recognizable Mac notebook at the top of the list of the mobile device breakdown is the most convincing piece of evidence provided by Morris. Weintraub adds to the speculation by outlining the reasons why he believes Apple would adopt the ARM platform over the popular Intel Atom architecture for a potential netbook/tablet venture. Those reasons include:

  • Apple has an internal PA Semi team working on future ARM chips for the iPhone/iPod Touch
  • ARM chips cost an order of magnatude less (to license) than Intel equivalents
  • ARM chips take up less space on a motherboard
  • ARM chips use many times less power, enabling much longer battery life and much sleeker design.
  • You won’t need to virtualize Windows on these types of devices.  Most other Apple applications can be easily ported between chips.
  • Apple wants more control over the processors, which it can’t have with Intel.
  • While a variant of the iPhone version of OSX is the most likely of candidates, Snow Leopard’s optimization release might also be for ARM as well.

This is still very much a rumor as Apple has not confirmed that it will be entering the netbook/tablet market anytime soon. Speculation on the production of such a device was rejuvenated when Steve Jobs recently commented on the netbook platform by saying that the iPhone is Apple’s “entrance in that category” and that it will “wait and see” how that category evolves. If Apple does enter into that market, Jobs promises that Apple has “got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve.” An ARM/Apple venture that expands upon the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch would be a pretty interesting idea, don’t you agree? Hit the jump to see the entire PowerPoint slide.

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