Apple Poaches Top ARM Engineer

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One of ARM’s top chip engineers has been hired by Apple as it seeks to expand its inhouse expertise

Apple continues to quietly build up its in-house chip expertise after it hired one of the top chip engineers from ARM Holdings.

The iPad maker hired Mike Filippo in May for a chip architect position – a move noticed by Bloomberg after checking his LinkedIn profile.

Apple is reportedly making a number of moves to bolster its chip capabilities. Earlier this month it was reported that Apple is talking with Intel about the possible purchase of its German modem business (aka Infineon), which could result in the iPhone maker developing its own modems.

Chip engineer

That move, if true, could result in hundreds of modem engineers transferring to Apple.

But now the Bloomberg article suggests that Apple is seeking to acquire leaders for its chip efforts.

When he was at ARM, Filippo was reportedly a lead engineer behind the chip designs that power the vast majority of the world’s smartphones and tablets.

He also reportedly led ARM’s push into supplying designs for computers.

And Filippo it seems has impressive chip design expertise over the year, as prior to working at ARM, he was previously a key designer at chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices and Intel.

ARM confirmed Filippo’s departure, but Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“Mike was a long-time valuable member of the ARM community,” a spokesman for the British-based company told Bloomberg. “We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him well in his next endeavour.”

Apple could well be hoping that Filippo will fill the position left by the departure of Gerard Williams earlier this year. Williams had been Apple’s head architect of chips used in the iPhone and iPad.

Apple moves

Apple’s growing its in-house expertise should come as no surprise considering that Intel had announced in April “its intention to exit the 5G smartphone modem business” altogether.

Intel’s decision to exit the sector came after Apple and Qualcomm announced this year they had reached a settlement and would cease all legal action between the two.

That settlement saw Apple agreeing to make an undisclosed payment to Qualcomm, and to use Qualcomm’s modem chips going forward.

It should be remembered that until recently, Apple had been using Intel chips ever since it dropped Qualcomm modems after its bust up with Qualcomm.

But it seems that Apple was never really happy with Intel.

Last July for example it was reported that Apple was considering moving away from using Intel’s 5G modems in future iPhones.

And in April it was reported that Apple was losing confidence in Intel’s ability to hit its deadline for the 5G modems.

And Apple it should be remembered is not afraid to acquire companies for the technologies they develop. Last October for example, Apple acquired parts of the business of UK-based Dialog Semiconductor.

Apple paid $600m (£454m) for a combination of patents, engineers, and facilities in multiple countries, as it seeks to control the Dialog power management integrated circuits (PMICs) found in all nearly iPhones.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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