Microsoft hires key Apple engineer to design chips for its servers, devices

Microsoft hires key Apple engineer to design chips for its servers, devices
Photo Credit: Pixabay
13 Jan, 2022

Microsoft has set the ball rolling on its long-awaited plans to design chips for its servers and Surface devices and has hired Apple’s chip architect Mike Filippo, reported Bloomberg.  

Filippo is a veteran in the chip industry with more than two decades of experience in chip designing and before joining Apple in 2019 had stints with top chip companies such as Intel, AMD and UK based ARM.   

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Filippo is the second chip engineer to move from Apple in the same month. Last week, Apple silicon designer Jeff Wilcox joined Intel. Last month, Apple offered a slew of bonuses ranging up to $180,000 to engineers working on silicon design, hardware and software to discourage them to move to other companies.  

According to an earlier Bloomberg report, a senior Microsoft executive had revealed in 2020 that the company plans to test its capabilities in chip designing and manufacturing while continuing its partnership with chip suppliers.  

Intel has been one of the oldest chip suppliers for Microsoft's servers and the Surface lineup of devices. Microsoft’s decision to design chips of servers and devices in-house will further dent its market dominance in the chip industry, which is already under threat from key rival AMD.  

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Microsoft won’t be the first device and operating system provider to design its own chip. Apple has been designing chips for its iPhones since 2010 and more recently in 2020 migrated its Macbook lineup of laptops to an in-house ARM-based M1 chip.  

Google also recently moved its Pixel lineup of smartphones to in-house Tensor CPUs from Qualcomm chips.  

Power efficiency is one of the key selling points of ARM-based processors and is the reason why many of these big tech companies with deep pockets are tapping into them.  

Though ARM-based chips are underpowered as compared to Intel and AMD’s x86 chips, recent iterations of Apple’s M1 series chips that drive the latest lineup of MacBook Pro laptops have been found to offer a significant performance improvement.