RISC? Never heard of it.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu:

While we believe it is inevitable that Mac + OS X and iPhone + iPad + iOS merge at some point, we don’t believe it will likely happen for a few years. From our understanding, the key reason is because OS X is optimized for [Intel] x86 processors while iOS is for ARM RISC (reduced instruction set computing). It will likely take some time to optimize OS X and hence Mac for ARM.

Apple released OS X for Intel in 2005, after running on the PowerPC platform for years.  PowerPC was a RISC family architecture.1  Before publicly switching to Intel, Apple had OS X running on x86 processors for years.  Chances are there is an ARM-based machine in Cupertino somewhere running OS X.

Wu should have led with his next point, which is most likely the reason Apple is a long ways off from merging iOS and OS X:

In addition, [Intel] processors are much more powerful for running compute-intensive Mac applications and for development.

  1. Granted, ARM and PowerPC are completely different designs, but the point stands – RISC-to-CISC (and vice versa) is not a showstopper.

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