Apple poaching competitor’s staff, part of hardware strategy?

Grace Robinson
24 March, 2011
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With Apple’s A5 chip making its debut with the iPad 2, it seems the company is already working on the design for the A6 and planning for the A7 and A8 to come.

Apple has employed additional chip experts to their in-house silicon team, recruiting engineers who were previously employed at ARM and Samsung, reports 9to5 Mac.

On his LinkedIn profile, chip expert Eunseok Ji announced his new position at Apple as senior engineer, the same position he worked in at rival company Samsung. Ji’s profile lists advanced semiconductor skills, including DFT, silicon testing, logic design and a whole host of hands on experiences with post silicon bring-up and debugging.

ARM’s Steve Ravet, also a member on LinkedIn,  joined Apple in March, stepping into the role of SOC prototyping engineer. Ravet has worked as a system verification engineer at Compaq and verification engineer at International Meta Systems before his employment at ARM as an electrical engineer.

Ravet is an expert whose capabilities include top level simulation, CPU validation and design, silicon and board bringup, and debugging microprocessor cores and SOCs.

The question is why Apple would be poaching such valued employees from companies that are manufacturing designs that power Apple’s iOS devices?

9to5 Mac speculates that this is a strategic move on Apple’s part to produce a ‘greater number of unique hardware features in upcoming Apple gadgets.’ Apple’s current product lineup of iOS gadgets indicates that this may be the company’s intention. 9to5 Mac goes on to point out that Apple’s actions in the past, add weight to the rumour.

‘Apple began pursuing custom silicon strategy with the purchases of PA Semi and Intrinsity, reputable silicon design shops. They are behind the A4 and A5 chips that make iOS devices tick, including iPhones, iPods and iPads. Whether Apple’s bolstering of its in-house silicon team yields greater differentiation on the hardware level or paves the way for their next big thing (an Apple-branded networked television set, anyone?) is a debatable matter.’

Whatever the case may be it seems Apple’s strategy, if indeed that, will be revealed in the release of its A6, A7 and A8 chips.

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