Published: 1 August, 2012
AMD has been stranded in no-man's land as far as mobile processors are concerned, but that may be about to change. The company has hired Jim Keller, one of renowned CPU designers of his generation, poaching him from Apple.
Keller has designed several generations of processors for Apple, and will now be corporate VP and chief architect for microprocessor cores at AMD, reporting to CTO Mark Papermaster,. He has also worked at Broadcom and was a pioneer of modern RISC processors when he worked on Digital Equipment's Alpha architecture in the early 1990s.
AMD said its new recruit (who has spent a previous stint at the firm) will focus on the cores which will underpin the next wave of products, including high performance and low power chips. The latter may hint at AMD finally coming up with a convincing offering for power sensitive products like handsets and embedded gadgets. There have been persistent rumors that it would adopt the ARM architecture for this purpose, but so far has only signed an ARM licence specific to security - although it has also unveiled a processor neutral architecture which can support ARM or its usual x86.
Papermaster also stressed low power credentials in his statement, saying "Jim is one of the most widely respected and sought-after innovators in the industry and a very strong addition to our engineering team. We expect that his innovative spirit, low power design expertise, creativity and drive for success will help us shape our future and fuel our growth."
Keller was most recently a director in the platform architecture group at Apple, designing the chips which are found in the iPad, iPhone and Apple TV. He joined Apple when it acquired PA Semiconductor, where he was VP of design - PA, combined with a Samsung partnership, was the foundation of Apple's A4/A5/A6 processors and its bid to be self-sufficient in silicon.