One of the keys to Apple’s massive success is its push for vertical integration. The company is never content with relying on outside suppliers for core components. After bringing iPhone CPUs and GPUs in-house, the next obvious target is mobile MacBook CPUs. To this end, Apple has managed to hire Mike Filippo, a CPU engineer with experience from AMD, ARM and Intel. Filippo has most recently spent a decade working for ARM’s in-house development team.
With quite the impressive resume, Filippo will be filling in for Gerard Williams III, one of Apple’s key engineers for their ARM CPUs who left earlier in the year. The fruit company has led the way in ARM CPU performance, beating out the reference designs every year. Maintaining this lead is key to ensuring the continued success of Apple. As the company continues to bring on more co-processors as well, there is a lot of design work for ARM chips for both iOS and MacOS.
While the obvious overlap in ARM for iPhones exists, it may also signal a move to take on x86 for MacBooks. Apple has been rumoured to be already working on running MacOS on ARM CPUs. However, more recent indications show that they may be thinking of a transition more seriously, with rumours of greenlit projects. As their custom CPU cores are already desktop grade, use in a low-end MacBook may be coming soon.
Even if Apple may release MacOS on ARM anytime soon, there are still many uses, not the least of which is for use as a bargaining chip against Intel. With AMD now resurgent, perhaps a move away from x86 is not as urgent as it once was. For now, Apple may continue to integrate more and more ARM chips on Macs as specialized co-processors. Perhaps the next decade once we roll into 2020 and 2021 will we finally see ARM for Macs.
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