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More proof Apple is making ARM MacBooks: It just hired a key ARM engineer

Published Jun 27th, 2019 6:50AM EDT
MacBook Pro on ARM
Image: Apple

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Apple is working on ARM MacBooks, several rumors said in the past few years, with a first such product to hit stores in 2020. Apple never comments on rumors and speculation, and all of its laptops and desktops are based on Intel processors right now. But Apple can’t hide everything and we have more evidence that Apple is considering a transition to ARM for macOS. The company just hired a key ARM engineer, who also worked at Intel and AMD before joining the iPhone maker.

Mike Filippo joined Apple last month, Bloomberg reports, for a chip architect position, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“Mike was a long-time valuable member of the ARM community,” an ARM spokesman confirmed. “We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him well in his next endeavor.”

Filippo worked at ARM for a decade before Apple, where he was a lead CPU and system architect overseeing several significant projects, like the ARM chips that power Android flagship phones every year. ARM designs are licensed to various companies, including Apple, Huawei, Samsung, and Qualcomm, which then create their own chips.

Before ARM, Filippo worked at Intel between 2004 and 2009, where he was also a lead CPU and system architect. From 1996 and 2004, he designed chips for AMD. In other words, Filippo looks exactly like the person you’d want to hire to create something that’s never been done before, a MacBook running on ARM processors.

We’ve longed compared the A-series chips that power the latest iPhone and iPad Pro models to Intel chips made for laptops and desktops. Apple’s latest chips score much better than their Intel counterparts in benchmark tests making a clear case for ARM Macs.

However, it’s not as easy as repurposing mobile chips for PCs. Qualcomm tried it a couple of years ago with the Snapdragon 835 that was first to run Windows and Android and then moved to make dedicated ARM platforms for Windows 10 computers. The best one is the Snapdragon 8cx that will power several devices this year, including a Surface Pro 7 model, according to recent leaks.

Bloomberg reiterates that Apple is expected to replace Intel chips with ARM as soon as next year, but Filippo could oversee other projects as well, including chips that would work on AR/VR headsets.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.