After working at Apple for two years, a veteran semiconductor designer Mike Filippo has joined Microsoft Corp. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Filippo will work on the processors within Microsoft’s Azure group to expand its product custom server-chips project.
Mike Filippo joined Apple in 2019 as a chip engineer, prior to that, he had worked as the top designer for semiconductors at ARM for 10 years and was at Intel for 5 years before that. Filippo has significant contributions in advancing Arm’s technologies in smartphones and other devices.
His departure might be considered the second major setback to the Cupertino tech giant in 2022. Earlier this month, Jeff Wilcox, the lead developer of Apple Silicon and T2 security processor, announced his departure from Apple after 8 years and re-joined Intel to oversee the development of all Intel system-on-chip (SoC) designs.
Microsoft hires Apple’s chip engineer to develop custom processors for Surface laptops
The introduction of the M1 custom-chip for Macs by Apple in 2020 has given momentum to the race in developing custom processors by leading tech companies. Like Intel, Qualcomm, and Meta, Microsoft is also investing in its own server chips, possibly for the Surface lineup.
Bloomberg reported in 2020 that the company was working on custom chips for its servers and, possibly, Surface devices. The Surface lineup, which includes personal computers and tablets, runs chips from Intel, Qualcomm Inc. and other providers.
In October, Microsoft advertised a job opening for the development of a system on a chip, or SoC, another sign the company is getting more aggressive in this area. The responsibilities include managing a “technical team to drive the architecture to deliver the product,” according to the posting.
Currently, Microsoft uses processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and this shift is likely to jeopardize that partnership.
Apple’s transition from Intel to custom-processors for the Mac lineup enabled it to deliver computers with high performance and incredible battery life which Microsoft might also be aiming for. Bloomberg writes:
“If Microsoft does eventually use custom silicon in those devices, it would mimic an approach embraced by Apple in recent years….
The focus on custom chips follows similar efforts by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft’s biggest cloud rivals.”