Apple’s netbook/tablet to be based on ARM Cortex architecture?

“The Apple tablet has been a topic of discussion ever since Steve Jobs yanked the Newton out of the product line in the late 90’s,” Seth Weintraub reports for Computerworld.Speculation was rejuvenated at last month’s conference call, where Jobs himself was on hand to say of the Netbook category:”

“entrance into that category” is the iPhone. But then he admitted that Apple is going to “wait and see” how the category evolves and “we’ve got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve.”

Weintraub reports, “To many, including me, that seemed to scream ‘tablet.’ To get a better idea about this category, however, I talked to Bob Morris, director of platform enablement for ARM’s mobile processor group, who had a wealth of information but (of course) could not speak about anything specific to Apple.”

Weintraub reports, “Here are the reasons, I believe that Apple will choose the ARM platform for their upcoming Netbook/Tablets.”

1. Apple has an internal PA Semi team working on future ARM chips for the iPhone/iPod Touch
2. ARM chips cost an order of magnatude less (to license) than Intel equivalents
3. ARM chips take up less space on a motherboard
4. ARM chips use many times less power, enabling much longer battery life and much sleeker design.
5. You won’t need to virtualize Windows on these types of devices. Most other Apple applications can be easily ported between chips.
6. Apple wants more control over the processors, which it can’t have with Intel.
7. 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.

Much more in the full article here.


  1. @CandTsmac

    Are you mad ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” /> ? Apple has enough to work on with one, let alone two, different processor architectures, so the chance of them doing it with all three is extremely unlikely. Couple this with emerging and varyingly useful technologies and Apple is going to use the ones with the most potential. If PPC has no potential in their eyes, then they’ll either use something with better opportunities (perhaps ARM) or they won’t leave the consumer a choice (by using only one). They are, of course, capable of carrying out development in all three areas, but the two with the most potential in terms of sales of new tablets(?)/laptops/desktops will get the look in.


    Normally, I wouldn’t like that joke, because of possible religious misperceptions (you know how it is nowadays) but given my flippancy above I’ll let you off… well done ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> .

  2. This is why Apple is pushing developers into an all-Cocoa world (like they pushed them into all-Xcode for the ‘surprise’ Intel transition for relatively easy recompiling), so the same compiler option will be able to (hopefully) soon recompile for the iTablet/iPhone/iTouch/iMac. Game over man…

  3. Swami says…

    • The iTablet will be Apple’s answer to the netbook.
    • It will be based on a PA Semi ARM chip.
    • It will run Snow Lep (hence the concentration on speed and resource efficacy)
    • It will be out this calendar year.
    • It will have onboard 3G (or better).
    • It will sell 10m units in the first six months.

    mw… “market”

  4. Seth is dumber than Cringely.

    Of course, any possible netbook will use a PA Semi designed ARM processor. Steve Jobs basically said that PA Semi is working on a SOC for the iPhone and touch. AND, Steve said at the last conference call that he considers the iPhone and touch to be equivalent to the capability of a netbook. Any evolution of the iPhone or touch into a true netbook, would of course use the ARM processor.

  5. I’ve been seeing some halfway decent looking so called “netbooks” from Dell, HP, etc. While they certainly lack Apple’s design elegance and of course the Mac OS, they are exactly what I am looking for to take with me to school every day. If Apple releases a smaller version of the MBA with about the same specs or better, I’ll buy it even if it costs almost as much as the regular Macbook. These netbooks are (in terms of size and weight) exactly what I am looking for.

  6. @CandTsmac – “If snow leopard is going to work on arm, then why not PPC?”

    Because Apple is building Arm and Intel products, not PPC. Sorry. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”red face” style=”border:0;” />
    Of course if Apple did not make well build computers that are still viable several years down the road, you would have been forced to upgrade before now. Do you need Snow Leopard or do you want Snow Leopard? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />
    I want it myself. The current system works just great.

  7. If any company can get tablet right it’s Apple.

    Their own CPU+Chipset with NVidia? GPU
    Cocoa only with custom UI, like iPhone OS meets Mac OS.

    Big question: Who needs drawing tablet if your computer has one? Stylus? Yes. But it’s more like pen and paper.

    Guess wich one is gonna be there faster: Pixelmator Team with Core Image or Adobe with their internal inflexible dev tools?

    Yeah… Don’t buy ADBE

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