Apple Hires ARM's Lead CPU Architect Amid Rumors of ARM-Based Macs as Early as 2020

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.

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Top Rated Comments

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10 months ago

This has everything to do with A series architecture leader leaving earlier this year, and nothing to do with your fantasy on Macs.

Thing is, why wouldn't Apple, at the very least, be considering an ARM transition? Intel has dropped the ball again and again on offering 7nm chips and it's now looking like they won't have anything suitable until at 2021 at the earliest, based on their leaked roadmap.

Apple would be absolutely insane to not at least consider transitioning away from Intel.

Keep in mind that the poor thermal performance of the newer MacBooks is likely at least partially down to Apple developing them for lower TDP Intel chips that never materialised.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 months ago
This has everything to do with A series architecture leader leaving earlier this year, and nothing to do with your fantasy on Macs.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 months ago
Counting down the days till Apple computing irrelevancy. Sure you will have iPad, and a iPhone but for computers this will be a nail in the coffin for people who use computers for things other than facebook and MS word.

"Hey prosumer, have a look at our computer that costs at least TWICE AS MUCH as a similarly spec machine anywhere else. Whats that, you want compatibility? Well, we have all the IO you could want if all you want is USB-C. Oh you were talking about software compatibility? Well, we don't run windows anymore so if you have some mission critical software you will have to buy a dedicated windows machine. What about old Apple apps? Well we just retired 32bit apps, and we have a "rosetta 2.0' that we will support intel software long, long, LONG, into the future. Well 2 years at last. So it's compatible if all your stuff is up to date. But anyway. BUY OUR MAC!"

Yeah, no.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 months ago
I prefer that Apple sticks to Intel or perhaps expands to AMD. If they work with a common X64 architecture, everything from peripherals, to accessories to virtual every piece of software will be reasonably priced. With the ARM architecture, you may get custom chips with selective performance gains, but you'll ultimately lose out on price, choice and flexibility.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 months ago

Counting down the days till Apple computing irrelevancy. Sure you will have iPad, and a iPhone but for computers this will be a nail in the coffin for people who use computers for things other than facebook and MS word.

"Hey prosumer, have a look at our computer that costs at least TWICE AS MUCH as a similarly spec machine anywhere else. Whats that, you want compatibility? Well, we have all the IO you could want if all you want is USB-C. Oh you were talking about software compatibility? Well, we don't run windows anymore so if you have some mission critical software you will have to buy a dedicated windows machine. What about old Apple apps? Well we just retired 32bit apps, and we have a "rosetta 2.0' that we will support intel software long, long, LONG, into the future. Well 2 years at last. So it's compatible if all your stuff is up to date. But anyway. BUY OUR MAC!"

Yeah, no.

You apparently haven’t been following the A-series chip benchmarks. They’re getting extremely quick without the heat overhead that x86-64 has. It’s only a matter of time, years-if that, before they’re faster than most Core i chips with a much lower TDP. They’ve basically been doubling in speed every iteration and they’re already as fast at single core performance as Intel’s top consumer chips ('https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/279988-apples-ipad-pro-a12x-nearly-matches-top-end-x86-cpus-in-geekbench'). They have a bit of a way to go for multi-core performance but no one has improved chips in the last 5 years like Apple.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 months ago
Face it folks, the industry is moving more and more towards ARM and away from x86 and Apple/MacOS isn't the only one. Even Microsoft is considering using ARMs in their Surface Pros. It's especially clear that Apple is going this route. That's probably the main reason they started Project Catalyst.

I'm curious to see how an ARM-powered Mac (and one with a real desktop-class processor with active cooling and whatnot) could do against a typical Intel powered computer.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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