Apple hires former ARM, Intel, and AMD chip architect Mike Filippo

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.

derFunkenstein

Sega nerd and guitar lover

Comments
    • ronch
    • 3 weeks ago

    Boys and girls, in case you missed this:

    [url<]https://www.techpowerup.com/256842/intel-internal-memo-reveals-that-even-intel-is-impressed-by-amds-progress[/url<] Geez Intel is such a bully since forever, but then they can't let AMD continue to grow bigger.

    Reply
      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 weeks ago

      I’ve seen that, but the original source is a Reddit thread in the /r/AMD sub and it makes me wonder if it’s just not an elaborate prank. TPU copy-pasta’d and linked HardwareLuxx, and HardwareLuxx does not link the original source. They “reported” it as original reporting with the same images, but this thread was up first.

      [url<]https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/c5nb01/amd_competitive_profile_where_we_go_toetotoe_why/[/url<]

      Reply
        • chuckula
        • 2 weeks ago

        OF COURSE IT’S FAKE!

        OUR REAL INTERNAL MEMO SAYS WE’RE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS ON JULY 8!

        Reply
          • blastdoor
          • 2 weeks ago

          No, the real internal memo shows the stock price YTD as of April 20th and reads “no worries, all is well!”

          But seriously, I don’t think you guys realize the depth of your mistakes or the perilous situation you’re in. The emperor of Intel needs to go shake hands with Tim Cook in the Cupertino demilitarized zone and promise to do whatever it takes to move Apple from TSMC to Intel’s upcoming 7nm process for mobile AND to stick with x86 in Macs. It might also not be a bad idea to give up on your GPU ambitions and ink a similar fab deal with Nvidia.

          Of course, I realize that will never happen, and your retreat to IBM status will continue.

          Reply
    • oldog
    • 3 weeks ago

    OK. So totally off topic but this is an opportunity to inject some “humanity” into these comments.

    Seeing the name “Filippo” made me immediately think of Fra Filippo Lipi a Florentine artist born in 1406 who had a rather extraordinary life history (at one point captured by Barbary pirates and kept as a slave).

    His works are in a word beautiful, as in, he painted beautiful portraitures for his patrons the Medicis. Lipi’s works are found in some of the spectacular churches in Tuscany (Florence region).

    His most famous pupil was Sandro Botticelli who painted probably the most iconic work of the Renaissance namely The Birth of Venus. This painting along with Primavera both hang in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

    These works are extraordinary to behold in person. In my humble opinion no life is complete without a visit to see these paintings in this gallery in this city. It literally is the place where humanity was reborn.

    Reply
    • ronch
    • 3 weeks ago

    AMD has so many Mike’s working for them as chip architects: Mike Butler (Chief, Bulldozer), Mike Johnson (Chief, K5), Mike [s<]Fra Lippo Li[/s<]Filippo (this). Advanced Mike-ro Devices

    Reply
      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 weeks ago

      That was funny. +1

      Reply
    • tipoo
    • 3 weeks ago

    Some of the comments in that 2012 article aged well eh, heh heh. And look at Apple ARM performance now.

    I still have people denying this switch is coming when I bring it up, some seem to think x86 has some sort of immutable performance advantage, but the trend has been clear if you’ve been paying close attention to the ambition of Apple’s core designs in the last few years.

    I’m a bit wary of what we’ll lose in the transition, but at the same time I’m quite excited to see if they can squeeze Intels heads a bit by taking the performance crown in higher wattage categories. What they do already is impressive (fanless year old iPad is closer in performance to the dual fan 28W 13″ rMBP than to any Intel fanless part) and offer a truly unique value for their considerable cost.

    Reply
      • NTMBK
      • 3 weeks ago

      You’re not kidding about the comments on that old article. I love this gem:

      [quote<]1. All the technological arguments about how Apple's flavor of ARM won't beat the performance of Intel are 100% true, but unfortunately irrelevant.[/quote<] Sure Chuck, ARM could never possibly beat Intel performance. Nope, no way.

      Reply
        • chuckula
        • 3 weeks ago

        So it’s 2019 and Apple’s magical ARM chips aren’t running the next generation Mac Pro. So Intel hasn’t lost even running an architecture from 2017.

        The other point is that Apple isn’t pushing ARM because it’s faster… It’s clearly not especially when you factor in what AVX-512 can do for everything from HPC to JavaScript.

        No, Apple wants its own proprietary chips to push control over the userbase that an open architecture like x86 won t let them do.

        Reply
          • Mr Bill
          • 3 weeks ago

          True, the experiment of roll your own PC with an Apple Bios was terminated by Apple back in the late 90’s because those users were having too much freedom.

          Reply
      • Anonymous Coward
      • 3 weeks ago

      The trend you see is perhaps that CPU designs seem to have largely converged on what works, and that any competent implementation of that can expect to be roughly competitive.

      I boldly predict that Apple will not be able to meaningfully beat Intel on general purpose computation, but that they’ll find some niches with interesting benchmarking potental.

      Reply
        • tipoo
        • 3 weeks ago

        Perhaps convergence is still enough.

        Look how much Apple got dinged for Intel failing to provide LPDDR4 support until Ice Lake. ARM supported it years ago. Even if their cores only match Intels on higher wattage, they can also tailor exactly the featureset from there on out.

        Reply
        • blastdoor
        • 3 weeks ago

        I agree that with respect to single thread performance on serial code, we do appear to be approaching convergence.

        But “niches with interesting benchmarking potential” kind of understates the potential value of customization. Two obvious and nontrivial examples are (1) security/privacy and (2) AI/ML.

        Regarding #1, I don’t mean “protect IP owners from consumers” (aka DRM) but rather “protect consumers from criminals.”

        Regarding #2, it’s easy to type “AI/ML” but lurking beneath those initials lies tremendous variation in function and implementation, and tight integration with software really is highly relevant.

        Oh, and more of #2 means #1 becomes more important, too.

        Reply
      • blastdoor
      • 3 weeks ago

      [quote<]Bloomberg's sources notes that Craig Federighi, who's been overseeing both OS X and iOS since Scott Forstall's ouster, is "considered likely to push for this more integrated experience [between OS X and iOS]."[/quote<] This is definitely happening — a lot of what came out at wwdc was consistent with this. But everything is taking much longer than predicted.

      Reply
        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 weeks ago

        Apple’s OS strategery has been taking this path for a long time. Mac users are rattling their sabers because it looks like the their beloved platform is only getting iOS leftovers.

        Reply
    • blastdoor
    • 3 weeks ago

    Arguments in favor of Apple ARM chip in Macs:

    1. $$$$
    2. Apple+TSMC = annual design and process updates; Intel — not so much
    3. Vertical integration technical advantage — the hardware is optimized for the software and vice versa; customized functionality to boost performance that matters to many Mac users
    4. AMD is a flaky, unreliable alternative to Intel

    Arguments against Apple ARM chips in Macs:

    1. lose native x86 compatibility, which matters to a minority, but non-trivial, number of Mac users
    2. Intel has an outstanding design team and could rebound on process, meaning that Intel might beat Apple in performance, leading to a major embarrassment and competitive disadvantage
    3. AMD’s past unreliability had a lot to do with manufacturing, and now they are using TSMC, so that issue is resolved.
    4. AMD will do anything for anybody, so Apple can get whatever degree of customization they want from AMD without losing x86 compatibility and at a good price

    Bottom line: I have no idea what will happen.

    Reply
      • chuckula
      • 3 weeks ago

      Arguments that Intel is screwing with Apple as payback:

      1. We only give them the “secret” roadmap as a joke. We know we’ll cancel all of those products but we tease Apple just enough so they don’t make those miracle 72 coar ARM chips.

      Reply
        • blastdoor
        • 3 weeks ago

        In a sense, this might be right. 2012 is a long time ago — if Apple had started designing a Mac ARM chip back then, it should have been out by now. Perhaps Intel told Apple stories about their magical 10nm process.

        It wouldn’t be the first time — Intel used stories about the magical Itanium to convince all the RISC guys except IBM to commit ritualistic suicide back in the 90s.

        Reply
      • e1jones
      • 3 weeks ago

      Arguments in favor of anything Apple….

      1. ….?
      2. ….?
      3. …. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Maybe they help advance the usage of ARM in general? I really want to see the actual usage of apple products (at least the ‘computers’). How many people NEED a mac, and how many people might as well be using a windoze/*nix/chrome thingy for the intertubes and very little else.

      Reply
      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 weeks ago

      You failed to predict this down vote too!

      Nice post, bro.

      -1

      Reply
    • chuckula
    • 3 weeks ago

    Apple ARM miracle chip totally isn’t ready yet…… CONFIRMED!!

    Reply
      • anotherengineer
      • 3 weeks ago

      yet…………….

      Reply
      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 weeks ago

      #soon #10nm #almostready

      Reply

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