Jean-Louis Gassée looks at Apple’s chip-flipping history, and the chance of an ARM Mac

Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note:

In 2008, for $278M, Apple acquires Palo Alto Semiconductor, a semiconductor design company. Less than a year after the iPhone starts shipping, the intent is clear: instead of buying off-the-shelf ARM chips, Apple wants to design its own processors for future iPhones.


Compared to modest first-year iPhone sales, spending $278M to acquire Palo Alto Semiconductor looks out of proportion. And, of course, let’s not forget a context where Intel reigns supreme having just “captured” the Mac. As always, references to Apple’s “well-known” arrogance are at the ready: Who do these guys think they are, what do they know about microprocessor design and manufacturing?

This is a great read. There’s insight into Apple’s path from 68K to PowerPC, the PowerPC to Intel, with lots of links and backup detail. And then Jean-Louis moves on to the possibility of iOS running on an ARM-based Mac, with both the good and the bad implications.

UPDATE: I originally wrote about the possibility for a speed increase for the Xcode iOS simulator. I started a Twitter thread asking about this and the response was pretty much no, that the code will be native either way (currently x86 code, if ported, it’ll be native ARM code, only difference would be if the ARM processor was significantly faster than the original x86 processor.)