Apple: from RISC CPU (PowerPC) to CISC CPU (x86 Intel) back to RISC CPU (ARM)

what is the difference?

short version:

  • CISC CPUs (usually need more energy) have more instruction sets, for example:
    • model name : Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-4200U CPU @ 1.60GHz
    • flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx pdpe1gb rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc cpuid aperfmperf pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 sdbg fma cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 movbe popcnt aes xsave avx f16c rdrand lahf_lm abm cpuid_fault epb invpcid_single pti tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid ept_ad fsgsbase tsc_adjust bmi1 avx2 smep bmi2 erms invpcid xsaveopt dtherm ida arat pln pts
      bugs : cpu_meltdown spectre_v1 spectre_v2 spec_store_bypass l1tf mds swapgs itlb_multihit srbds
  • RISC CPUs (usually need less energy) have less instruction sets

Security in hardware: are ARM CPUs safer than Intel’s?

does not seem like it:

  • AutoTranslated from: Wiki: “Meltdown is a hardware vulnerability in microprocessors that allows unauthorized access to the memory of third-party processes.”
  • “Vulnerability has been identified for Intel x86 processors (all processors since 1995 with the exception of the Atom series before 2013)
  • the ARM Cortex-A75 processor design confirmed by ARM[5] and the POWER architecture of IBM[6].
  • AMD’s x86 processors, however, are not affected.[7] [8]

The future of desktop computing, is, what was the future for mobile computing already is: power efficient RISC CPUs of the ARM (“Advanced RISC Machines” and originally “Acorn RISC Machine”) concept (maybe with, maybe without Intel ME style backdoors)

while the M1 RISC can still run programs compiled for x86 CISC via Rosetta 2:

“In 2020, Apple announced Rosetta 2 would be bundled with macOS Big Sur, to aid in the Mac transition to Apple Silicon.

permits many applications compiled exclusively for execution on x86-64-based processors to be translated for execution on Apple silicon” (src: Wiki)

x86 vs M1 benchmarks:

a bit of ARM history:

the UNIX philosophy of K.I.S.S is true not only for software: “The Acorn team saw high school students producing (RISC) chip layouts on Apple II machines, which suggested that anyone could do it.[27][28]

In contrast, a visit to another design firm working on modern 32-bit (CISC) CPU revealed a team with over a dozen members which were already on revision H of their design and yet it still contained bugs.

This cemented their late 1983 decision to begin their own CPU design, the Acorn RISC Machine.[29]” (src: Wiki)

It would take 25 years for this technology to really “take off” and “skyrocket” in the widely adopted mobile computers called SmartPhones of Steve Job’s IPhones and Google’s Android (which is a heavily modified GNU Linux).

the user can get the latest Macbook Pro with M1 (Apple’s own adaption of the ARM based Chip) for 1300€ on eBay.

not known if GNU Linux can run natively on Macbook Pro M1 (some hardcore hackers can probably make it run).

M1 Parallels can run GNU Linux Debian 10, Dimitri loves it 🙂

Dimitri says: “Intel is so screwed, they need to innovate”

Yes for those dependent on Windows software, it can also do Windows 10: “Virtual machine performance is improved, up to 30 percent faster when a Windows 10 for ARM64 virtual machine is running on an M1-based Mac compared to Windows 10 running on a MacBook Air with an Intel Core i9 chip. ”

  • “DirectX 11 is 60% better on Windows 10 for ARM64 on an M1-based Mac, compared to an Intel-based MacBook Pro that has a Radeon Pro 555X graphics processor.”
  • (src: Forbes)

More Videos:

“almost everything works”

wht does NOT work on M1 yet:

  • (haha) the AndroidStudio’s Android Emulators
  • docker


What this means for x86 Apple Developers: