semiconductor Stories December 14, 2015

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According to a report from Silicon Valley Business Journal, Apple has recently purchased a former chip fab in North San Jose. The deal reportedly went through last week and saw Apple pay $18.2 million for the 70,000 square foot building.

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Apple’s A5 chip has debuted with iPad 2, but the company’s already hard at work designing the A6, contemplating the A7 and thinking about the A8. Apple added more chip experts to their in-house silicon team and poached veteran engineers from Samsung and ARM earlier this month. A LinkedIn profile belonging to chip expert Eunseok Ji reveals he recently came on board as a senior Apple engineer, the role he played for years at rival Samsung. He counts advanced semiconductor skills in his profile, hard core stuff such as logic design, DFT, silicon testing and hands-on experiences on post-silicon bring-up and debugging of complex mixed-signal design for system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions.

Why antagonize your silicon manufacturer by poaching such an expert? Okay, Samsung is a frenemy. But why lure an engineer away from ARM? This fabless semiconductor firm makes designs that power Apple’s iOS gadgets and the vast majority of mobile gear, for that matter. ARM’s Steve Ravet, who also joined Apple in March as an SOC prototyping engineer, is a twelve-year veteran who worked as a system verification engineer at Compaq and verification engineer at International Meta Systems prior to joining ARM as an electrical engineer.

His competencies include CPU validation and design, focused on FPGA emulation, silicon and board bringup, top level simulation and debug for ARM microprocessor cores and SOCs. I’m just speculating here and your guess is as good as mine, but I think you’ll agree such a hiring spree might be a tell-tale sign of a greater number of unique hardware features in upcoming Apple gadgets. Look no further than Apple’s current lineup of iOS devices.

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