Apple & ARM's iPhone & Mac chip partnership will continue for decades

Posted:
in AAPL Investors

Not only is Apple investing in ARM's initial public offering in the US, filed paperwork has revealed that the pair have signed a long-term collaboration agreement spanning potentially more than two decades.




Established in 1990, ARM began as a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer, and VLSI Technology. And, earlier on Tuesday, after decades on other stock exchanges, ARM has filed for its initial public offering with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apple is part of the investors in ARM's IPO, with it contributing part of $745 million with the rest of big tech. However, that's perhaps not the biggest news for Apple investors and fans.

As part of the filing, ARM said that it has a close partnership with Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, AWS, and others. Its partnership with Apple is so strong, that there is a new long-term agreement with the iPhone maker.

"Further, we have entered into a new long-term agreement with Apple that extends beyond 2040, continuing our longstanding relationship of collaboration with Apple and Apple's access to the Arm architecture," ARM said in the filing.

It's not yet clear what the agreement contains.

ARM's IPO will release 95,500,000 ordinary shares in the US. ARM expects the initial public offering price to fall between $47.00 and $51.00.

Advanced Micro Devices, Apple, Cadence Design Systems, Google, Intel, MediaTek, Nvidia, Samsung, Synopsys, and TSMC are investing an aggregate of $735 million between the 10 companies.

Apple and ARM's partnership



In the late 1980s, Apple started working with Acorn. On November 27, 1990, the two companies joined with chip manufacturer VLSI Technologies to form a company.

Apple paid in $3 million to own 43% of that company. The intention was to have an ARM processor designed and then made for what was to be the Newton MessagePad.

Also in 1993, ARM, possibly concerned about being tied to making processors for one device, started looking to license its technology. this was an unusual move at that time in the industry, but it is how ARM transitioned to a firm that designed processors for other companies.

ARM still does not design Apple's chips. Instead, Apple is a licensee of ARM technology.

Apple's use of ARM technology goes beyond its iPhone, iPad, and Mac chips. It uses the technology in many other chipsets used in its products, with most of them produced by its long-term main chip partner TSMC.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,210member
    So those 10 companies will collectively own about 15 percent of ARM? 

    Presumably some will have a larger share than others. 

    I’m a little surprised to see AMD on the list, given that they have no ARM based products (sfaik). But maybe they have plans? I know at one point the “K12” was supposed to be ARM-based, but it was scrapped to focus on Ryzen
    h2pwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,683member
    Pocket change, I can understand why the other companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, and AWS are investing in it, they’re hoping to collect intelligence, so that they can reverse engineer a usable chip, as long as Apple isn’t sharing any useful info or sending any upper echelon people, who know anything about Apple Silicon, throwing a few pennies as goodwill towards Arm in theory won’t hurt?
    h2pspock1234williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    dk49dk49 Posts: 264member
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 18
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not?
    brianmchiawilliamlondonblastdoorFileMakerFellerwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 18
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    ARM is RISC - Apple Silicon (A series and the M series) are licensed ARM based designs... so they are RISC.
    spock1234chiawilliamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Apple is also part of the RISC V consortium. As soon as Apple announced Macs as having “Apple Silicon” and not “ARM-based CPUs” I knew it’d be a possibility that they’d always remain open to other ISAs.  If RISC V continues on its current trajectory— and continues to attract all the talent — it may happen by 2035–40. 
    jdiamondFileMakerFellerwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 18
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,410member
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    Apple Silicon is RISC. ARM is literally RISC as it originally stood for "Advanced RISC Machines". 
    spock1234chiawatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Yes, RISC is an acronym, sometimes expanded to "Reduced Instruction Set Computer." However, there is a chip that runs a different instruction set from ARM called RISC V. It is also a reduced instruction set processor, but is not binary compatible with ARM. So, if Apple wants to hedge its bets, as it did when one of its labs ran Mac OS on Intel, it could port the OS to RISC V to determine if that hardware platform has better attributes (more horsepower with low power, a taller "top end," a reduced need for dozens of cores, etc.)
    chiasphericdk49watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,505member
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    If by RISC you mean RISC-V (which I think you do), I think that's a definite possibility. 

    One thing is sure. RISC-V is growing fast and won't be slowing down any time soon. 
    jdiamonddk49jony0
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Apple is also part of the RISC V consortium. As soon as Apple announced Macs as having “Apple Silicon” and not “ARM-based CPUs” I knew it’d be a possibility that they’d always remain open to other ISAs.  If RISC V continues on its current trajectory— and continues to attract all the talent — it may happen by 2035–40. 
    I completely agree.  Apple's not going to get caught again being tied to an ISA.  The agreement with ARM is likely just to guarantee terms on Apple using ARM for the next 20 years - Apple could drop at any time like they did with Imagine and GPUs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,994member
    Yes those early licensees included DEC, at one time the second largest computer company behind IBM, which developed a high powered version of the ARM architecture called StrongARM and which was developed with Apple specifically in mind.   The original Newton MessagePad used an ARM610 but the MessagePad 2000 switched to StrongARM.  DEC sold this tech and teams to Intel as part of a lawsuit and Int developed StrongARM into their Xscale line. 

    Other companies also licensed ARM architecture and reference designs etc (there were various versions/degrees of license)including TI and Samsung.  samsung based ARM powered early iPhones if I’m not mistaken (from memory so I could be wrong and I believe TI was used as well?)  So the idea of licensing their designs was a good and well founded decision that has lead us to where we are at and Apple has been there since the beginning, being a founding member (later sold off to raise cash) and a perpetual foundational licensee  

    (I grew up in the DEC family as my dad took a job with them when I was 10 and I later spent about 6 years, not contiguous, working for them in NH and Munich). 
    edited September 2023 tmaydewmesphericFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    jdiamond said:
    Apple is also part of the RISC V consortium. As soon as Apple announced Macs as having “Apple Silicon” and not “ARM-based CPUs” I knew it’d be a possibility that they’d always remain open to other ISAs.  If RISC V continues on its current trajectory— and continues to attract all the talent — it may happen by 2035–40. 
    I completely agree.  Apple's not going to get caught again being tied to an ISA.  The agreement with ARM is likely just to guarantee terms on Apple using ARM for the next 20 years - Apple could drop at any time like they did with Imagine and GPUs.
    Apple doesn't license processor IP from ARM - just the Instruction Set Architecture.

    AFAIK, there is nothing in the ISA that limits Apple - in fact it's rumored that ARM designed ARMv8 at Apple's request so Apple could create Apple Silicon's deep pipeline out-of-order execution model (which ultimately resulted in the up to eight simultaneous execution unit of Apple's Firestorm processor).

    There's nothing magical about an instruction set - provided it doesn't limit deep pipelining by doing old-gen stuff like ARMv7's inclusion of condition code execution in every other instruction.

    The only advantage of something like RISC V is licensing - and Apple's already got all that covered.
    edited September 2023 tmayblastdoorsphericwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 18
    danox said:
    Pocket change, I can understand why the other companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, and AWS are investing in it, they’re hoping to collect intelligence, so that they can reverse engineer a usable chip, as long as Apple isn’t sharing any useful info or sending any upper echelon people, who know anything about Apple Silicon, throwing a few pennies as goodwill towards Arm in theory won’t hurt?
    Have you checked the patents ARM register for their technology big companies protect their IT before they show it to anyone. Big companies know the shares are undervalued and have great scope for a bit of pocket profit if they do desire. It’s also to show ARM is strong to other smaller investors as a good long term part of someone’s portfolio. The price seems respectable.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,263member
    chadbag said:
    Yes those early licensees included DEC, at one time the second largest computer company behind IBM, which developed a high powered version of the ARM architecture called StrongARM and which was developed with Apple specifically in mind.   The original Newton MessagePad used an ARM610 but the MessagePad 2000 switched to StrongARM.  DEC sold this tech and teams to Intel as part of a lawsuit and Int developed StrongARM into their Xscale line. 

    Other companies also licensed ARM architecture and reference designs etc (there were various versions/degrees of license)including TI and Samsung.  samsung based ARM powered early iPhones if I’m not mistaken (from memory so I could be wrong and I believe TI was used as well?)  So the idea of licensing their designs was a good and well founded decision that has lead us to where we are at and Apple has been there since the beginning, being a founding member (later sold off to raise cash) and a perpetual foundational licensee  

    (I grew up in the DEC family as my dad took a job with them when I was 10 and I later spent about 6 years, not contiguous, working for them in NH and Munich). 
    Interesting to mention DEC in an article with “for decades” in the title. I grew up in central MA surrounded by DEC and even used a number of DEC VAX-* and PDP-* computers in college and as system components early in my career. DEC facilities were nearly as numerous in MA then as Dollar Stores are today. Then … poof, they’re all gone. So I get a little twitchy when I hear much of anything in technology with the words “will continue for decades.” I hope so.

    Fortunately, technology can outlast its creators and survive the rise and fall of several corporate entities that use it and even expand on its original form. Additionally, time creeps up on you. Things that you use on a daily basis and take for granted are suddenly decades old. The iPhone will be hitting its twentieth birthday before you know it. A year later, it will be able to buy its first beer. Who would have thought?
    chadbagFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    jdiamond said:
    Apple is also part of the RISC V consortium. As soon as Apple announced Macs as having “Apple Silicon” and not “ARM-based CPUs” I knew it’d be a possibility that they’d always remain open to other ISAs.  If RISC V continues on its current trajectory— and continues to attract all the talent — it may happen by 2035–40. 
    I completely agree.  Apple's not going to get caught again being tied to an ISA.  The agreement with ARM is likely just to guarantee terms on Apple using ARM for the next 20 years - Apple could drop at any time like they did with Imagine and GPUs.
    Apple doesn't license processor IP from ARM - just the Instruction Set Architecture.

    AFAIK, there is nothing in the ISA that limits Apple - in fact it's rumored that ARM designed ARMv8 at Apple's request so Apple could create Apple Silicon's deep pipeline out-of-order execution model (which ultimately resulted in the up to eight simultaneous execution unit of Apple's Firestorm processor).

    There's nothing magical about an instruction set - provided it doesn't limit deep pipelining by doing old-gen stuff like ARMv7's inclusion of condition code execution in every other instruction.

    The only advantage of something like RISC V is licensing - and Apple's already got all that covered.
    Exactly — well said.

    RISC-V is attractive for people who can’t get access to ARM, either because they can’t afford it or because they are forever friends with a genocidal sociopath. Apple has neither of those problems. 
    tmaywilliamlondonchadbagtenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    dk49dk49 Posts: 264member
    stuartf said:
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not?
    Well I meant RISC-V. I thought it was well understood that RISC these days refers to RISC-V, especially when comparing to ARM.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 18
    dk49dk49 Posts: 264member
    avon b7 said:
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    If by RISC you mean RISC-V (which I think you do), I think that's a definite possibility. 

    One thing is sure. RISC-V is growing fast and won't be slowing down any time soon. 
    Yes that's precisely what I meant.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,242member
    dk49 said:
    stuartf said:
    dk49 said:
    Apple will have to switch to RISC before it becomes mainstream if it has to retain it's leadership in CPUs. And that's likely to happen before "decades". 
    I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not?
    Well I meant RISC-V. I thought it was well understood that RISC these days refers to RISC-V, especially when comparing to ARM.
    You misunderstood.

    RISC is generic and has been around for decades; RISC-V is a specific instance of RISC, as is ARM. 

    If anyone wants to create another RISC architecture, nobody is going to stop them.

    RISC-V, other than being open source, young, and relatively cruft free, has a long way to go before it ever displaces ARM, and even then, it too will end up with increased complexity. That's the nature of ISA's.
    FileMakerFellertenthousandthingswatto_cobrajony0
Sign In or Register to comment.