ARM's lead CPU architect Mike Filippo hired by Apple
Rumors about an ARM-based Mac or Macbook have been flying for a few years now, but a recent hiring move by Apple lends a bit of weight to those speculations. Mike Filippo, who served as a leading CPU architect for ARM for the past decade, was hired by Apple last month, according to his LinkedIn profile.
There have been rumors about Apple developing an ARM-based computer, specifically a MacBook. As it stands, Apple is fully reliant on Intel and (recently) AMD for the CPUs and GPUs used in Mac computers. The company thus has to work around another company’s silicon and mold MacOS to work with a closed-source chip design and parameters. Part of what makes the iPhone operate so smoothly despite its comparatively weaker specs (compared to Android flagships) is how Apple has been able to optimize iOS; Apple’s mobile OS is designed specifically to work with its hardware instead of around it. This is made possible mostly because Apple develops its own silicon using ARM’s architecture.
Filippo brings a wealth of chip design experience with him; in addition to a 10-year stint as a lead designer at ARM, Filippo also served as designer for AMD from 1996 to 2004 and as a lead CPU architect at Intel from 2004 to 2009.
While Filippo’s latest career move may indeed point to an Intel-free Mac, it’s also possible Apple hired Filippo to head its mobile chip division. Apple relies on ARM’s chip architecture for its mobile A-series CPUs used in the iPhone and iPad lines. Apple’s Mac computer also rely on the ARM-based T2 security chip.
Apple’s hiring of Filippo doesn’t confirm a fully ARM-based Mac or MacBook; the Cupertino company could be trying to develop its own mobile chips or improve the iOS experience. Apple could also be trying to develop a chip to better take advantage of the iPad’s new iPadOS. Additionally, Gerard Williams III, who was the lead designer for the A-series chips from the A7 through the A12X, left Apple earlier this year. Filippo may simply be filling those shoes instead of reinventing the Mac.