Apple Hiring Chip Designers for iPhone, iPod
Apple is tapping into Silicon Valley's work force in an effort to build a team of engineers to design a chip for the company's popular iPhone, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to "people familiar with the plans," the WSJ reports Apple is looking for people across the semiconductor industry. Apple already hired Raja Koduri, the former CTO of Advanced Micro Devices' graphics products group, the paper reported.
Apple has also taken steps to reach out to potential employees via its Web site, where it lists hardware engineering opportunities for the iPod, hardware engineering posts for its Mac family of computers and a plethora of other silicon-related positions. In another high-profile hiring move, Apple added Bob Drebin, formerly of AMD, to its roster. While Drebin left AMD in January 2008, Steve Dowling, an Apple company spokesperson, declined to say when he joined Apple.
While Apple's rapid accumulation of top-tier talent is impressive, the WSJ reported internally designed chips are at least a year away. Adding to the mix is Apple's acquisition last year of P.A. Semi (originally Palo Alto Semiconductor), a fabless semiconductor company that specialized in power-efficient processors.
During the annual Worldwide Developer's Conference in June 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was widely reported to have said the acquisition was meant to add the talent of P.A. Semi's engineers to Apple's work force, specifically to help them build custom chips for the iPod and iPhone.
The WSJ also reported "people familiar with the moves" as saying the hiring spree is meant to reduce the level of technological details it must share with outside chip suppliers. Apple's wildly successful iPhone smartphone is currently powered by a 32-bit ARM processing core made by Samsung.
ARM CPUs are a dominant force in the mobile electronics market because of their low power consumption. As of 2007, about 98 percent of the more than 1 billion mobile phones sold each year use at least one ARM CPU, according to research from the Linley Group.