Secret Apple project leaked: port Mac OS X to ARM processors
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With the publish of a thesis by Tristan Schaap on his 12 week stint as an intern with Apple’s Platform technologies Group, has revealed a secret experiment to port Mac OS X Snow Leopard to the ARM architecture. Initially the thesis was embargoed because of its sensitive contents, but later it was published by the Netherland’s Delft University of Technology.
The paper shows that Schaap worked with the Group to get Darwin, the lower half of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system to boot on to ARM based processor from Marvell. Although he achieved his goal of booting into a multi-user prompt but some issues remained due to poor implementation of the debug hardware.
Apart from all these Apple has a reputation of placing new engineers on decoy projects, so there might not be any shipment later related to this experiment. However according to Schaap’s LinkedIn profile he has joined Apple as a Core OS Engineer after graduation and has worked almost a year and a half with them.
According to Schaap in order to get the product ready to ship, the L2 cache need to be worked along with some other drivers that need to be written for the hardware in order to fully utilize the potential. He also added that several applications should be written or ported from other platforms as what their team had ported was not enough to perform the tasks the unit needs to perform.
Although there are a few rumors about Apple being interested in switching from Intel-based Macs to ARM-based ones but after a meeting with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Richard Gardner said that Cook walked away with the impression that Apple feels iPad satisfies or will satisfy the needs of those who might be interested in such products as an ARM-based MacBook Air.