It looks like Apple may be cooking up some cool new innovations in the graphics department. According to information obtained by MacRumors from reviewing employee LinkedIn profiles, Apple appears to be hiring a swarm of former AMD engineers to work on an internal graphics engineering project.
Apple has hired at least a dozen former AMD graphics engineers for its Orlando offices in recent months […] The majority of hires, which include a graphics architect, hardware engineer and others, occurred in January of this year.
AMD laid off a number of employees last year in a corporate reorganization, and fired more in January. It seems likely that Apple hired a number of the laid off Orlando AMD engineers for a new team it’s building in the region.
The company has also posted new job listings for Site Managers to head GPU teams in both Orlando and Cupertino.
The team is being referred to in Apple’s own job listings as the “Orlando GPU team”. Developing their own custom chips is nothing new for Apple – they’ve been doing so with their iOS devices for several years. We’ve mentioned these Orlando graphics-related hirings in the past – but it’s interesting that they seem to be accelerating that hiring significantly. The key qualifications listed on Apple’s job site are as follows:
– 10+ years proven experience leading high performance GFX (or equivalent complexity) IP development teams
– 5+ years proven experience building/hiring medium/large (30+) complex ASIC IP development teams
– Excellent personnel management, mentoring, team building and hiring abilities
– Proven ability to manage parallel project efforts including effective resource/schedule planning & tracking
– Excellent written/verbal communication and project management skills
– Experience with GFX Architecture/Design, GFX APIs and overall GFX development is a significant plus
– Ability to work well in a cross-site team and be productive under aggressive schedules
What’s particularly interesting is that they seem to be working on their own custom graphics processor – something which no other major computer manufacturer (at least, not that I am aware of) has ever done before. Whether this is related strictly to iOS devices or possibly to future Mac hardware is unclear – but it will be interesting to see what they cook up either way.
AMD and Apple have a long history of working together on graphics hardware for Macs, and Apple has experimented with AMD processors in products such as the MacBook Air. There’s also been a fair deal of discussion in the past few years about Apple possibly using ARM processors like their “A” series iOS device chips in future Macs, which we’ve discussed at length.
Such a move does make a lot of sense for Apple – the less they have to rely on third parties (such as AMD or Intel, in this case) to product their components, the more control they have over the process. It also enhances their ability to offer their technologies at an ever more competitive price by eliminating the middleman.