Apple Loses Key Server Chip Designer To Microsoft

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Apple chief executive Tim Cook at WWDC 2020. Image credit: Apple

Apple loses another key staffer, as Microsoft reportedly hires chip industry veteran Mike Filippo to help in its in-house chip server designs

Apple has suffered another engineering blow in the space of a week, after another senior person departed the iPhone giant.

Bloomberg reported that the latest departure from Apple is chip industry veteran Mike Filippo, who had worked for Apple for nearly three years.

Filippo is reportedly joining Microsoft, where according to people with knowledge of the matter, he will help design Redmond’s own chips for its servers.

Mike Filippo

Chip veteran

Back in 2017 it was reported that Microsoft was to design ARM chips in its new Azure server designs, after Microsoft had developed a version of Windows 10 that ran on ARM-based processors.

But that 2017 report did not materialise, and Redmond still uses Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for the majority of its Azure cloud services.

Indeed, most of its Surface lineup also still run on AMD and Intel chips as well.

But then in December 2020 it was reported that Microsoft was again looking to design its own ARM-based processors for use in its Azure servers. Those new chips would not only be used in its Azure servers, but also possible Surface devices.

And now Microsoft had added some real expertise to its chip design efforts, as Filippo has an impressive career in the chip sector.

He started his career in 1996 at AMD as a “CPU Designer”, and then worked at Intel for five years between 2004 and 2009 as “Chief CPU/System Architect”.

He then worked for the UK’s ARM Holdings for nearly ten years, where he reached the position of “ARM Fellow”.

Filippo then joined Apple in May 2019 as a ‘Chip Architect’, according to his LinkedIn account.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Filippo has now joined Microsoft as its “Chief Compute Architect”.

Apple departures

The news of this latest departure from Apple will prompt questions if the steady departure of key personnel from the tech giant is part of normal staff turnover.

It recently came to light that Apple was paying selected engineers a huge bonus in order to retain their services and stop their defection to Meta Platforms (Facebook) and other firms.

Apple issued significant stock bonuses to a selected number of engineers, ranging from between $50,000 to as much as $180,000.

The lucky engineers were reportedly based in silicon design, hardware, and select software and operations groups.

But this did not halt the departures from Apple.

Earlier this week, Jeff Wilcox, Apple’s director of Mac system architecture who oversaw much of the Apple silicon transition, left Apple to rejoin Intel.

Wilcox will head up Intel’s efforts to develop its own system-on-a-chip.

Prior to that in late November another senior executive left, namely Dr Michael Schwekutsch, a former Tesla engineer with experience in powertrains, left Apple to join electric air taxi startup Archer as senior vice president of engineering.

Last September Doug Field, who was vice president of special projects at Apple and in charge of its car project (Project Titan), left Apple and joined Ford.

Prior to that three former Apple engineers (Gerard Williams III, Manu Gulati and John Bruno) launched a server chip specialist called NuVia in 2019.

NuVia was eventually acquired by Qualcomm for $1.4 billion in January 2021.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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