Apple has captured a prominent ARM engineer as it looks to install custom processors inside the Mac in the years to come. As seen by BloombergApple has hired Mike Filippo, the lead architect on several ARM CPU designs, including the Cortex-A76, which was recently featured inside Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 chip.
Bloomberg speculates that Filippo could be filling a key place at Apple that was left vacant after Gerard Williams III, Apple’s chief processor architect, left the company earlier this year. Apple has not commented on the contract or what Filippo will do, but ARM confirmed that Bloomberg who left A LinkedIn account for Filippo lists him as an “architect” who has been working at Apple since May. Before that, he held similar roles at Intel and AMD:
When the Cortex-A76 was announced last year, Filippo said CNET thought the chip design “would do well against Apple.” Apple has for years made processors for smartphones and tablets that far outperform their rivals’ chips, designing their own cores rather than licensing them ARM, and that remains true even with the latest ARM designs.
ARM and Apple are not completely in competition, however. While Apple doesn’t explicitly use ARM’s processor designs, as other companies like Qualcomm do, it does rely on ARM’s instruction set when designing its own processors. Attracting someone who is deeply familiar with creating chip designs based on ARM technology is a natural step, as Apple tries to promote what its own chips can do.
Since Apple’s chips are already at the forefront of smartphones and tablets, the company is said to be looking to put them inside Macs in the next two years. It would be a big change for Apple laptops and desktops that might require a lot of rewritten code. But it would allow Apple to break free from Intel, which has been slow in recent years to keep up with processor advancements and achieve even tighter integration of hardware and software on its devices.