2009年5月6日 星期三

In Major Shift, Apple Builds Its Own Team To Design Chips


2009年 04月 30日 12:07
In Major Shift, Apple Builds Its Own Team To Design Chips
Apple Inc. (AAPL) is building a significant capability to design its own computer chips, a strategy shift that the company hopes will create exclusive features for its gadgets and shield Apple's work from rivals.

The Silicon Valley trend-setter has been hiring people from many different segments of the semiconductor industry, including engineers to create multifunction chips that are used in cellphones to run software and carry out other chores.

Apple could use the internally developed chips to sharply reduce the power consumption of its hit iPhone and iPod touch devices, and possibly add graphics circuitry to help its hardware play realistic game software and high-definition videos, people familiar with its plans say.

In one sign of the new focus, Apple recently hired Raja Koduri, who was formerly the chief technology officer of the graphics products group at chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). Koduri started at Apple this week, following in the footsteps of Bob Drebin, who had held the same title at AMD and is also now working for Apple. Online job postings from Apple describe dozens of chip-related positions it is trying to fill, some with partial descriptions like 'testing the functional correctness of Apple developed silicon.'

Besides a desire to beat rivals to market with new features, Apple's shift is also an effort to share fewer details about its technology plans with external chip suppliers, say people familiar with the moves.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

The new effort faces plenty of hurdles, and people familiar with Apple's plans don't expect internally designed chips to emerge until next year at the earliest. Still, Apple's aggressive hiring is another sign of how the company's recent success has allowed it to expand while other tech giants have trimmed their work forces in the recession.

Apple's strategy also marks a break from a long-term trend among most big electronics companies to outsource the development of chips and other components to external suppliers.

Last spring, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs explained the purchase of Silicon Valley start-up P.A. Semi as a way to acquire expertise and technology to help run increasingly sophisticated software on iPhones and iPods. 'You can't just go out and buy the chips off the shelf to do that,' said Jobs in an interview.

Most cellphones are based on chip designs licensed by ARM Holdings PLC (ARMH) to others. For the iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNHY) supplies an ARM-based microprocessor with custom features developed by Apple, analysts say.

People familiar with Apple's thinking say executives have expressed concern that some information shared with outside vendors could find its way into chips sold to Apple competitors. A Samsung spokeswoman declined comment.

People familiar with the situation say Jobs told engineers from P.A. Semi last April that he wanted to develop chips internally and didn't want knowledge about that technology to leave the company. Jobs is on medical leave and was unavailable for comment.

People familiar with Apple's plans expect former P.A. Semi engineers to help create ARM-based chips that could improve the performance and battery life of future iPhones.

Yukari Iwatani Kane / Don Clark

2009年 04月 30日 12:07

果公司(Apple Inc.)正在大力提高自主設計電腦芯片的能力﹐公司希望通過這種策略上的轉變為其產品打造出獨特功能﹐減少競爭對手對蘋果的沖擊。



蘋 果最近將曾在芯片製造商高級微設備公司(Advanced Micro Devices Inc.)擔任圖形產品集團首席技術長的科多瑞(Raja Koduri)招致麾下﹐從中可以看出蘋果對這一新業務的重視。科多瑞本週開始工作﹐此前曾在AMD擔任同一職位的德雷賓(Bob Drebin)也加盟了蘋果。蘋果還在網上發佈了數十個同芯片有關的招聘職位﹐其中一些職位的描述中帶有諸如“測試蘋果開發芯片的功能正確性”等內容。





去年春季﹐蘋果首席執行長喬布斯(Steve Jobs)曾解釋說﹐公司收購硅谷初創企業P.A. Semi是為了獲取它的專業知識和技術﹐以便iPhone和iPod上日益複雜的軟件能更好運行。喬布斯在接受採訪時說﹐你不能總是到外面去購買已有的芯片來滿足這類要求。

大多數手機芯片的設計都基於ARM Holdings PLC的專利技術。分析師說﹐三星電子(Samsung Electronics Co.)負責向iPhone提供基於ARM技術的微處理器﹐該芯片的特定功能由蘋果自行開發。


知情人士說﹐喬布斯去年4月向P.A. Semi的工程師表示﹐他想在公司內部開發芯片﹐不希望有關的技術內容流出公司。喬布斯正在休病假﹐記者無法聯繫他發表評論。

瞭解蘋果公司計劃的人士預計﹐前P.A. Semi的工程師將幫助開發基於ARM技術的芯片﹐這些芯片將提高未來iPhone的性能和電池壽命。

Yukari Iwatani Kane / Don Clark