A5 MacBook Air

Secret Apple Project Worked to Port OS X to ARM Processors

Posted in News, OS X on 07/02/2012 by Chris Hauk

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Did Apple investigate the idea of running OS X on iPad style ARM processors? A report from iMore says they did.

Jack Perry reports for iMore:

In 2010, Apple’s Platform Technologies Group (a subdivision of the CoreOS department) spent some time working on a project to port the Mac OS X Darwin kernel to the ARMv5 chipset architecture — the same family of chipsets that currently powers iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.

He includes a snippet from the project, titled Porting Darwin to the MV88F6281, subtitled ARMing the Snow Leopard:

The goal of this project is to get Darwin into a workable state on the MV88F6281 processor so that other teams can continue their work on this platform. The project has three major milestones:

  1. Getting the buildsystem into shape, so that it can build the kernel and kexts.
  2. Building and booting the kernel into single user mode.
  3. Booting the system into multi-user mode.

Perry says, “The project was only made public several months ago. While iOS also uses the Darwin kernel, this project involved Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and was left for the CoreOS teams to continue. Since Mac OX X 10.7 Lion has since shipped, as have newer generations of iPad and MacBook Air, without any sign of MAC OS X on ARM, it’s unknown if this project is still ongoing or has since been put on the shelf. However, the author of the paper is now a full-time employee at Apple, working as a CoreOS Engineer.”

Instead of MacBook Airs with ARM processors, Apple has taken iOS software “Back to the Mac” with their OS X 10.7 Lion release.

While a move of OS X to ARM processors may never occur, it is nice to see the company staying nimble by keeping their options open.



Chris Hauk

Author

Chris Hauk

MacTrast Senior Editor, and self-described "magnificent bastard," Chris Hauk owns Phoenix Rising Services and writes for everyone's favorite "bad movie" website, Big Bad Drive-In.

His first Apple product was an iPod Classic 5 years ago, and he has since added a MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, and 2 Apple TVs to his collection.

He lives somewhere in the deep Southern part of America. Yes, he has to pump in both sunshine, and the Internet.

Don't forget to check out Chris' two latest endeavors, as the "Apple Expert" at Answers.com, and his own personal tech blog at chrishauk.com