If there’s indeed a poaching chess game going on between Tesla and Apple, it would appear the automaker is winning in acquiring quality pieces. Just a few week after we exclusively reported that Tesla hired legendary chip architect Jim Keller as new “Vice-President of Autopilot Hardware Engineering”, we now learn that Keller is joined by former DEC Alpha, PA Semi and until earlier this year Apple Director Peter Bannon.
Before Keller left Apple for AMD in 2012, he and Bannon were leading Apple’s processor development since the Cupertino-based company bought their chip making firm PA Semi in 2008. The duo lead the development of Apple’s A4 and A5 processors, which powered most of the company’s mobile devices from 2010 to 2012. Keller then left to develop the Zen architecture at AMD, but Bannon stuck around and developed several other chips for Apple until leaving for Tesla to join Keller last week.
Bannon, who is named as an inventor on dozens of patents related to processors, is only the latest in Tesla’s series of hires from Apple’s high-level science teams. Here are our exclusive reports on just the most recent hires:
- Elon Musk hires Apple’s alloy expert to lead materials engineering at both Tesla and SpaceX
- Tesla hires sensor expert from Apple to develop next generation Autopilot sensor suite
Beyond its implications in furthering the so-called poaching war between Tesla and Apple, Bannon joining Tesla raises a very interesting question: Does Tesla plan to design its own processors?
At first it might sound implausible, but yet the automaker now employs two of the most sought after processor architects working today. Of course, their engineering expertise includes skills useful to Tesla in other departments, but yet it’s not impossible for the company to also exploit their core talent.