Feeds

Mac OS X ARM port by Apple work experience kid revealed

Project sparks non-Intel-powered MacBook rumour fever

Top three mobile application threats

A Dutch computer science student's homework has stirred the old rumour that Apple may ditch the Intel platform and power its Macbooks with ARM processors.

Tristan Schaap's bachelor thesis at the Delft University of Technology described work he did at Apple as an intern: getting the core of Mac OS X to run on an MV88F6281 processor - an ARM926EJ-S-compatible component, made by Marvell [PDF], rather than silicon from Intel.

Written in 2010 after a three-month spell slaving away in the Platform Technologies Group in Cupertino, Schaap's dissertation was embargoed for a year and published in August 2011. The 16-page document was seized upon by AppleInsider.

The document, Porting Darwin to the MV88F6281: ARMing the Snow Leopard, describes his 12-week job getting Darwin - the lower half of the Mac OS X operating system - to work on a single-core 1.2GHz ARMv5-compatible processor. Bear in mind that ARMv5 is not the latest revision of ARM's architecture; the beefy dual-core CPUs in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, for example, use much more recent spins of the processor tech.

The essay tracks Schaap's problems with ARM's Thumb instruction set and several kernel bugs. However, the boy did well enough to get a job: he now appears to be working as a Core OS engineer at Apple, according to LinkedIn.

Though the embargo on the paper gives it an air of secrecy, it can't be that much of a surprise that Apple is playing around with these projects and testing out their options. And the fact that they gave the task to the work experience kid doesn't suggest that an ARM-based MacBook Air is anything to expect immediately. Porting an OS to another chip system can be a good way to test for bugs if nothing else.

And then OS X already runs on ARM chips - in the form of the iOS operating system on iPhone and iPad. And in that arena there's plenty of space for Apple to innovate on the ARM platform. Apple supremo Tim Cook told analyst Richard Gardner last week that his company had no plans for an ARM-based MacBook, adding that the iPad will satisfy the needs of anyone who would have been interested in a potential ARM-based MacBook Air. Apple's desire to keep the Air high end could mean they'll stick with more powerful Intel chips for their laptop ranges.

Still, with ARM gunning for the high-performance territory as well as the low-power corner of the chip market, it's up in the air. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
OpenBSD founder wants to bin buggy OpenSSL library, launches fork
One Heartbleed vuln was too many for Theo de Raadt
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Got Windows 8.1 Update yet? Get ready for YET ANOTHER ONE – rumor
Leaker claims big release due this fall as Microsoft herds us into the CLOUD
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
Patch iOS, OS X now: PDFs, JPEGs, URLs, web pages can pwn your kit
Plus: iThings and desktops at risk of NEW SSL attack flaw
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Apple inaugurates free OS X beta program for world+dog
Prerelease software now open to anyone, not just developers – as long as you keep quiet
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.