What just happened? It's no secret that Apple wants a firmer grip on the hardware that goes inside its Macs, just like it has with its iPhone and iPads, among other products. The company has made a big development in this regard with the hiring of Mike Filippo, ARM's lead CPU architect who'll reportedly further Apple's plans in transitioning the Mac line-up from Intel CPUs to its own ARM-based chips.
Rumors of Apple using ARM-based chips for its Mac products have been around for years. The company already deploys its ARM-based T series of chips as a co-processor on various Mac laptops and desktops to handle features like the Touchbar, TouchID, secure boot and storage encryption. It now looks to ramp up efforts to replace long-term CPU supplier Intel in favor of its own ARM-based custom designed chip.
With Mike Filippo joining Apple last month, as revealed by his LinkedIn profile, the chip veteran is rumored to fill the spot left vacant by the departure of Gerard Williams III, another key engineer who left Apple a few months ago. Although Gerard worked on the company's A series of mobile chips, it remains to be seen whether Mike picks up the baton or has been brought on-board to work on Apple's AR/VR hardware.
Mike Filippo brings a lot of chip development experience to the table with twenty three years in the industry working at ARM, Intel and AMD. He was also the lead architect behind the Cortex-A76 featured inside Qualcomm's latest 855 SoC.
Apple is yet to comment on Mike's hiring or his role and responsibilities at the company but ARM confirmed to Bloomberg of his departure. "Mike was a long-time valuable member of the ARM community," a company's representative said. "We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him well in his next endeavor."
An architectural shift for Apple's Mac line-up from Intel's x86 CPUs to its own ARM-based solution is going to be a big challenge, but one which Apple has reportedly been working on for sometime. It also doesn't help Intel that it's slow advancements in CPUs over the past few years as well as supply shortages could potentially end up in its hardware being dropped altogether from Apple's Macs as the latter seeks to get rid of third party dependency with rumors pointing to ARM-based Macs that could release as soon as next year.