Intel Poaches Apple Engineer Who Lead the M1 Development Team
In what can only be described as a major win for Intel, the company has scooped up a prized engineer who was responsible for Apple’s overwhelmingly successful transition to its own silicon, and away from Intel’s chips.
Jeff Wilcox, who was formerly listed as Director, Mac Architecture on his LinkedIn page, announced this week that he was taking a new position with Intel, and listed his new title as Intel Fellow, Design Engineering Group CTO, Client SoC Architecture. Wilcox notes that his new responsibilities at Intel will make him “Leader of the Client SoC Architecture team in the Design Engineering Group at Intel,” and that he will now be, “Responsible for the architecture of all SoCs for all Intel client segments.” At Apple, he was responsible for overall Mac system architecture as well as signal and power integrity.
Wilcox was actually previously employed by Intel before joining Apple in 2013, which he referenced in his goodbye posts on LinkedIn. He wrote, “After an amazing eight years I have decided to leave Apple and pursue another opportunity. It has been an incredible ride and I could not be prouder of all we accomplished during my time there, culminating in the Apple Silicon transition with the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max SOCs and systems,” adding in a separate post, “I could not be more thrilled to be back working with the amazing teams there (at Intel) to help create groundbreaking SOCs.”
The news is somewhat shocking for those who follow the industry, as it seems like Apple would have the motivation to keep someone with Wilcox’s pedigree around, even if it required dropping some major cash into his account, which Intel obviously did. It is certainly a sign that Intel is serious about regaining its former glory as a silicon powerhouse, which the company’s CEO Pet Gelsinger has been talking a lot about recently. Although previously, much of Gelsinger’s talking points focused on the company investing in new silicon fabs both in the US and abroad, along with a pledge to dump over $100 billion into its fab business in the coming years. Gelsinger has rightly noted that Intel will have to engineer its way back to the top of the podium, and that it wants to be seen as the world leader in silicon fabrication in a few years time. Cleary the company is opening up its check book not only for its next-gen silicon, but for top talent as well.
Hiring Wilcox is a sign that Intel is serious about improving its SoC designs. The company’s recent Alder Lake CPUs use a hybrid set of cores that is conceptually closer to the big.Little designs Apple and other ARM vendors use. New types of packaging integration and disaggregation have driven a great deal of innovation in the semiconductor industry over the past five years, including AMD’s adoption of chiplets, the on-package HBM memory support coming to next-gen Intel and AMD CPUs, and much of Apple’s M1 strategy.