Apple custom chip guru jumps ship to rejoin Intel

Jeff Wilcox led efforts to build M1 and T2 processors

Apple’s top silicon lead Jeff Wilcox, who led the iGiant's push to develop homegrown chips, has left his role to start a new job at Intel.

Wilcox announced he had returned to his old employer in a LinkedIn post, this week. "I’m pleased to share that I have started a new position as Intel Fellow, Design Engineering Group CTO, Client SoC Architecture at Intel Corporation," he said. "I could not be more thrilled to be back working with the amazing teams there to help create groundbreaking SOCs. Great things are ahead!"

It’s an interesting reversal considering his previous position at Apple as Director, Mac System Architecture, was focused on replacing all Intel silicon in Apple’s products with its own custom silicon. Wilcox oversaw the iGiant’s transition to build its own chips, like the Arm-based M1 CPU in its 2020 ‌MacBook Air‌, MacBook Pro, ‌Mac mini‌, and the latest iPad Pro and iMac. The 2021 line of MacBook Pros feature the more powerful M1 pro and M1 Max processors.

He also worked on T2, Apple’s security chip, a secure enclave processor (SEP) that handles various applications from Touch ID data to encrypted storage. Again, the T2 chip is based on Arm’s blueprints and not Intel’s x86 instruction set. The T2 was released commercially in 2018 in Apple’s computers and laptops.

“After an amazing eight years I have decided to leave Apple and pursue another opportunity,” Wilcox said.

“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. I will dearly miss all of my Apple colleagues and friends, but I am looking forward to the next journey which will start at the first of the year.”

Wilcox was previously a principal engineer at Intel, where he was lead architect for client PC chipsets for three years. He also had brief stints at as an engineer and architect at Magnum Semiconductor, a video compression technology company that was acquired by GigOptix in 2016 and now known as GigPeak, as well as a spell Nvidia. ®

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