Apple adds ARM’s lead CPU architect to chip team

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mike filippo
Apple's impressive chip team just got more impressive.
Photo: LinkedIn

One of the top CPU architects in the world has joined Apple’s chip team.

Mike Filippo, who created some of ARM’s most impressive CPUs over the last few years, was hired last month by Apple, signifying the company could be gearing up to switch to ARM CPUs on the Mac.

Filippo boasts one of the most impressive CPU architect resumes in tech, so this could be a huge hire for Apple. Before working at ARM, Filippo was the chief CPU/system architect at Intel for five years. He was also a CPU designer at AMD for eight years. Now he’ll be working on Apple’s chip team out of the company’s Austin, Texas, hub.

The possibility of Apple bringing ARM CPUs to the Mac has floated around the rumor mill for about a decade. The rumors recently gained steam, with some reliable sources saying Apple wants to ship ARM-based Macs by 2020 or 2021.

ARM chips offer better power performance than Intel’s CPUs, but their single-core performance currently does not prove quite as powerful. Apple already uses ARM CPUs in the iPhone and iPad. Those chips are the best in the industry, giving Apple a big performance advantage over its competitors. Adding ARM chips to the Mac could help Apple leapfrog other laptop-makers.

Switching to ARM chips will probably be a multi-year process. Apple may offer some Macs with Intel CPUs while launching others with ARM chips. We already know Apple plans to bring iPad and eventually iPhone apps to the Mac through Project Catalyst, so ARM-based Macs seem like a sure thing now.