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Rumors indicating that Apple wants to move its Mac lineup to ARM CPUs designed inhouse have been swirling for more than a year. Come to think of it, those rumors started as far back as 2012. It’s seemingly been a matter not of “if” Apple would bid adieu to the x86-64 ISA, but “when” that change would take place. Those rumors have spun up once more now that the company has hired former ARM, Intel, and AMD system architect Mike Fillipo last month, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Filippo, an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma and Rice University, has an impressive history in systems design. He got his start at AMD, where he was involved in the designs of multiple generations of Athlon and Opteron processors. After that, from 2004 to 2009, he was lead architect an HPC chip for a 24-core, 96-thread behemoth SoC and played a role in several cache designs. Most recently at ARM, Filippo was the lead architect for many of the company’s processor cores, including the A76, the next-generation high-end mobile core codenamed “Hercules”, and several infrastructure and server-focused CPUs like Neoverse N1 (codenamed “Ares”).
Presumably Filippo’s hiring is a little late for working on designs that have been rumored to launch next year. These designs typically take quite a while to complete. For instance, Jim Keller famously discussed AMD’s Zen microarchitecture at AMD’s Innovation Summit some three full years before Ryzen launched. The timing could indicate that Apple’s plans aren’t as far along as previously rumored, or it could indicate nothing at all. Apple’s design team was an IPC powerhouse long before this hiring, and Filippo has experience in system architecture that stretches beyond just the ARM ISA.