Apple just made a big move toward ditching Intel and outfitting its laptops with custom chips. Per a Bloomberg report, the Cupertino giant hired a lead engineer from ARM, the company that designs and licenses processors.
In May, Apple reportedly hired Mark Filippo, a lead architect behind the chips that power most of the world's smartphones and tablets, including the Cortex-A76, which was used in Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 855 SoC. When Filippo was poached by Apple, he was reportedly focused on developing processors for computers, an area he is familiar with having previously been employed at AMD and Intel.
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“Mike was a long-time valuable member of the ARM community,” a spokesman at Arm told Bloomberg. “We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him well in his next endeavor.”
Bloomberg suspects Filippo will slot into a position left open when Gerard Williams III, the head architect for chips in the iPhone and iPad, left the company. Apple doesn't use Arm's chip designs, but it does employ the company's instruction set, which forms the basis of its internal processors.
Apple is reportedly planning to abandon Intel and use custom-made processors for Mac computers as early as 2020. The move would let Apple have more control over its laptops while enabling Macs, iPhones and iPads to work more seamlessly together. We've seen the power of Apple's in-house A-series chips in the latest iPads and iPhones. The A12X Bionic chip in the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro blew away the competition in our synthetic benchmark tests and even outpaced many premium laptops outfitted with Core i7 CPUs, including the Dell XPS 13.
Moving to a custom chip would not only give Apple more control over its ecosystem but it could end the company's reliance on Intel, which has faced CPU supply shortage and struggled to decrease the size of its processor nodes, leading to multiple delays. Apple hasn't gone on record with its plans to ditch Intel, but we should know more by the end of next year.