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Apple does not use ARM designs, they use certain principles present in the ARM architecture and the ISA.


"Companies can also obtain an ARM architectural licence for designing their own CPU cores using the ARM instruction sets. These cores must comply fully with the ARM architecture."


That's about the best description I could find, too. It all boils down to what 'comply fully' means.

Given the lego-like structure of the ARM instruction set (the 32-bit variant), with zillions of extensions (Jazelle, DSP instructions, Neon, Thumb, Thumb-2, various revisions of vector floating point instructions) and explicit support for "coprocessors" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture#Coprocessors), I suspect (based on common sense and nothing else) that the license allows expanding the instruction set and dropping whole modules.

But as I said elsewhere: concrete proof for that is lacking.

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