Monday, January 17, 2022

Microsoft hires semiconductor engineer who previously worked for Apple, Arm and Intel

Microsoft reportedly lured a veteran semiconductor designer away from Apple to work on the company’s server chip efforts.

report comes from bloomberg, Which cited people with “knowledge of the case” who asked not to be identified. However, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the hiring of Mike Filippo for the publication. bloomberg There are reports that Filippo will be working on the processor within Microsoft’s Azure group, headed by Rani Borkar. Filippo previously also worked at Arm and Intel.

The appointment of Filippo shows that Microsoft is moving forward with its plans to build its own chips for servers, specifically those that power its Azure cloud computing services. The shift to custom chips follows an industry trend initiated by Alphabet’s Google and Amazon.

Previously, rumors suggested that Microsoft had plans to develop custom chips for servers and, possibly, for Surface devices. While Filippo is set to join the Azure team, it’s still possible that Microsoft plans to develop chips for Surface devices, similarly following a trend kickstarted by Apple.

The iPhone maker has impressed with its custom ARM-based silicon, such as the M1 series of chips powering its new MacBook and iPad Pro models. Google similarly shied away from using Qualcomm chips in its latest smartphones – the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro both have the company’s ‘Tensor’ chip with a focus on machine learning.

Microsoft’s shift to custom chips could threaten the company’s relationship with Intel and AMD, both of which have long made the x86 processors that power most PCs (as well as servers and, before the M1, Apple’s Mac computers). provide power. For now, x86 still has a place among Windows PCs, thanks to performance gains, legacy software and because Microsoft’s Windows take on ARM efforts has been generally disappointing so far.

In addition, Microsoft has laid some groundwork for custom chips in Surface devices. The company previously worked with Qualcomm to develop custom ARM-based silicon for the Surface Pro X (SQ1 and SQ2). However, the Pro X also exemplifies issues with Windows on ARM and isn’t something worth buying, at least for now.

Filippo’s exit also marks the loss of another high-profile engineer for Apple. He joined the iPhone-maker as a chip architect in 2019 after serving as a top semiconductor designer at Arm for a decade. Filippo was at Intel for about five years before that.

Source: Bloomberg

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