Mike Rayfield, the former head of Nvidia’s mobile device chip business who quietly left the company in August, will now head up Micron Technology’s efforts in developing memory chips for smartphones and tablets.
Micron officials announced Sept. 18 that Rayfield, whose departure from Nvidia was kept quiet for almost a month, will be vice president of the company’s Wireless Solutions Group, which builds and sells DRAM, NAND Flash, NOR Flash and PCM memory chips for mobile devices.
Rayfield, who spent seven years with Nvidia, will mesh well with Micron’s ambitions in the booming mobile space, according to President Mark Adams.
"Micron has the industry's broadest set of innovative memory products,” Adams said in a statement. “Mike has the direct industry experience, relationships and leadership skill set that will help us leverage this portfolio in serving our mobile customers."
Until last month, Rayfield had been vice president and general manager of Nvidia’s Mobile Business Unit, responsible for overseeing that company’s expansion from a maker of graphics cards to handle the increasingly complex video games to a supplier of mobile device chips that leverage not only its graphics heritage but also the mobile chip designs from ARM Holdings.
Nvidia’s transformation strategy increasing put it into greater competition with the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics and Texas Instruments in the competitive world of smarpthones and tablets. The company had some victories—including most recently when Google announced its Nexus 7 Android tablet powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip—but also some disappointments. While some analysts expected Amazon to choose Nvidia for its Kindle Fire tablet, the online retailer instead chose to stick with Texas Instruments.
It was the development of the Tegra chip line that help Nvidia move into mobile devices, and it was Rayfield who oversaw its development. The most recent addition, the Tegra 3, offered Nvidia’s 4-Plus-1 architecture, where the quad-core chip also includes a fifth core that runs at a lower frequency than the others and can be used to run devices at low power while in standby mode. The fifth core also will run tasks that may not need all the power of the other four cores.
The 4-Plus-1 architecture was designed to offer greater performance, power efficiency and batter life, which “make for a fast, fluid experience that’s hard to match,” Rayfield wrote in a June 27 post on Nvidia’s blog.
Rayfield also was in charge of the development of Nvidia’s Kai platform, which was created to leverage ARM’s chip designs to create tablets that are high performing and energy efficient, and can be priced significantly lower than Apple’s popular iPad and the myriad Android devices on the market. Google’s Nexus 7 was built on the Kai platform and costs about $199.
Prior to Nvidia, Rayfield made stops at a number of other places, including Cisco Systems and Texas Instruments.