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

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
7,398
8,478



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.

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

DHagan4755

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2002
923
475
Massachusetts
I can see it now: An A-series SOC for iPhones/iPads (i.e. A13 in the iPhone). X-series processors for the Mac. "The all-new MacBook Pro. Featuring the new blazing fast X1 10-core processor." The X-line of processors will be higher TDP ARM-based processors for laptops and desktops that give them the braun to surpass what Intel is offering.
 

JoelTheSuperior

macrumors 6502
Feb 10, 2014
366
205
London, UK
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.
 

mi7chy

macrumors 603
Oct 24, 2014
5,926
6,885
Hopefully a real iPad Pro running MacOS for ARM that can run iOS apps instead of lipstick on a pig iPodOS.
 

TheFluffyDuck

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2012
496
1,141
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.
 

thawk9455

macrumors newbie
May 2, 2013
16
33
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.
I agree, Apple should be considering moving from Intel but realize that switching to ARM means giving up a lot too. You loose all compatibility with Bootcamp. A significant reason we buy as many Apple computers as we do is due to the fact that they can run Windows and can easily virtualize basically anything. This ensures our researchers can run nearly any piece of software they want on any given machine. Honestly, the biggest weakness Apple has for us right now is that we can't run Nvidia eGPU to access CUDA. We'd likely buy even more high end Apple machines (and would be looking at the new Mac Pro) if that were an option.

I also hope Apple is talking with AMD. No reason to not look at another x64 supplier as well.

Just curious but why do you think an ARM Mac will not happen?
I think it might happen, but I hope its only on the lower end machines for the above reasons.
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,932
796
Wherever my feet take me…
If Apple does do an ARM Mac, I wonder what it would be like? Also wonder how it would handle things like PCIe, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, etc.? Hopefully, Apple would transition to newer versions of them faster.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gatortpk

zubikov

macrumors regular
Sep 3, 2014
104
344
PA
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.
 

Akrapovic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2018
535
744
Scotland
So will an ARM based Mac be unable to run standard, compiled for Intel applications? Where does this leave the current lineup, and even the new Mac Pro? Is buying a Mac now buying into a machine that's going to have a limited life due to the move to ARM?
 

ThisBougieLife

macrumors 68020
Jan 21, 2016
2,005
6,332
SF Bay Area, California
So will an ARM based Mac be unable to run standard, compiled for Intel applications? Where does this leave the current lineup, and even the new Mac Pro? Is buying a Mac now buying into a machine that's going to have a limited life due to the move to ARM?
That's what I'm wondering. They're going to come out with a $4000+ 16" Intel Mac this fall then quickly follow it up with an ARM based Mac? What about the people who spend $12,000 on the Mac Pro?

Or is ARM only coming to the lower-end Macs?
 

hawkeye_a

macrumors 65816
Jun 27, 2016
1,254
3,217
I am processor agnostic. However, i do favor RISC vs CISC generally speaking. If they can demonstrate their ARM based platform, performing "heavy-duty-lifting"* at the same speed(or better than) intel's offering, at roughly the same price, i'll be interested.

They've made transitions like this in the past, so i hope they can follow the "recipe". (Emulation layer for the transition, etc).

If this is their plan, I suspect they will start with consumer-centric Macs first.

*heavy-duty-lifting would include number crunching or video encoding(HEVC) IMHO.

PS>> They better be able to pair their CPUs with off-the-shelf GPUs.
 

QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,146
1,080
Colorado Springs, CO
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. 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.
 

Sabelonada

macrumors 6502
Aug 1, 2018
268
199
If Apple does do an ARM Mac, I wonder what it would be like? Also wonder how it would handle things like PCIe, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, etc.? Hopefully, Apple would transition to newer versions of them faster.
Didn't Thunderbolt 3 just get rolled up into USB 4?
 

hawkeye_a

macrumors 65816
Jun 27, 2016
1,254
3,217
So will an ARM based Mac be unable to run standard, compiled for Intel applications? Where does this leave the current lineup, and even the new Mac Pro? Is buying a Mac now buying into a machine that's going to have a limited life due to the move to ARM?
Check out the "fat binaries" concept they used when transitioning between CPU architectures before (6800 to PPC to Intel).
 

QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,146
1,080
Colorado Springs, CO
That's what I'm wondering. They're going to come out with a $4000+ 16" Intel Mac this fall then quickly follow it up with an ARM based Mac? What about the people who spend $12,000 on the Mac Pro?

Or is ARM only coming to the lower-end Macs?
Most likely they’ll start with the MacBook Air (or equivalent) and move to transition the entire lineup over the years with the Mac Pro being the last once they’re at least as fast as, if not faster than, Intel’s languishing offerings.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lostczech