Multiple reports have indicated that Apple plans to transition to its own ARM-based processors in Macs starting as early as 2020, and the company recently made a significant hire that lends credence to that objective.
ARM’s lead CPU and system architect Mike Filippo joined Apple last month, based out of the Austin, Texas area, according to his LinkedIn profile. Filippo led the development of several chips at ARM between 2009 and 2019, including the Cortex-A76, Cortex-A72, Cortex-A57, and upcoming 7nm+ and 5nm chips.
Filippo also served as Intel’s lead CPU and system architect between 2004 and 2009, and he was a chip designer at AMD between 1996 and 2004, so he brings a wealth of chipmaking experience with him to Apple.
Filippo’s profile still lists his ARM role as ongoing, but social media talk suggests that he has left the company.
Apple designing its own ARM-based processors for Macs would allow it to move away from Intel processors, which have frequently faced delays. In fact, sources within Intel reportedly confirmed to Axios that Apple does plan to transition to ARM-based processors in Macs starting next year.
Apple already designs its own A-series chips for the iPhone and the iPad, and it also designs the custom T2 security chip in recent Mac models, as part of its broader efforts to move to in-house components and chip designs. Apple has long been known for closely integrating its hardware and software.
Last year, Bloomberg reported that the transition to ARM-based processors is part of a multi-step process that will eventually allow developers to create one app with a single binary that runs across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple has already laid the groundwork for this with Project Catalyst.
Update: ARM has confirmed Filippo’s departure in a statement provided to Bloomberg: “Mike was a long-time valuable member of the ARM community. We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him well in his next endeavor.”
Bloomberg suggests that Filippo’s experience could assist Apple with its ARM-based Mac processors. The report also suggests that Filippo could help fill the void left by the departure of Gerard Williams III, the lead designer of Apple’s custom iPhone and iPad chips from the A7 to A12X, earlier this year.