Apple Secretly Securing Silicon Talent

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appleFollowing our coverage of Apple’s recent hiring of Bob Drebin, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal [print addition] that elaborated a bit on Apple’s recent hiring practices.  According to the article, Apple has been securing top industry talent centered upon building its own silicon.  The company feels that the move will create exclusive features in Apple products and shield its work from rivals.

How far are they going to get talent?  Well, they recently hired Raja Koduri away from AMD’s ATi graphics division.  He was formerly CTO.  Seem odd?  It should, considering our previous coverage of this featured Bob Drebin, Koduri’s predecessor also going to Apple.  Two ATi CTO’s, both enticed away to Apple.

They’re continuing to hire top silicon design talent in the face of a rough economy.  They’ve had dozens of positions posted online in the previous few months with descriptions reading “testing the functional correctness of Apple developed silicon.”  This, after acquiring a Silicon Valley semiconductor startup, P.A. Semi, last spring.

Its completely feasible for Apple to think about developing certain intellectual property around low-power, efficient mobile computing devices.  Apple’s `i` devices [iPhones, iPods, etc] not only drive revenue for Apple, but set trends in the mobile device industry at large.  However, is it also feasible to think Apple is planning on developing their own core silicon?  Before you toss fruit at the idea, think about the implications.  With the recent explosion in the netbook and ultramobile laptop sales, Apple must certainly take notice.  What’s to say Apple isn’t developing a hot ARM-based netbook running a similar OS as the iPhone?

[Kane, Yukari Iwatani and Clark, Don. “In Major Shift, Apple Builds Its Own Team To Design Chips.” Wall Street Journal 30 April 2009, natl. ed.: B1+.]