updated 02:05 pm EDT, Mon April 27, 2009
Apple Hires ATI CTO
Apple has quietly signaled a new emphasis on graphics by hiring an influential graphics chipset designer from AMD. The former CTO for the company's ATI graphics product group, Bob Drebin, has indicated on his LinkedIn profile that he is now a Senior Director for an unnamed group within Apple. What products he covers are unknown, though in addition to leading GPU engineering at ATI since 2000, he also spent significant time developing products at Silicon Graphics and, during a 2-year span at ArtX, helped create the "Flipper" GPU that formed the heart of the Nintendo GameCube.
Drebin also has an indirect past connection to Apple through his employment in the 1980s with Pixar, which Apple co-creator Steve Jobs bought in 1986.
The expertise in hardware nonetheless points to chipset collaboration and design rather than strict software development and comes roughly a year after Apple acquired PA Semiconductor with the eventually confirmed goal of designing custom iPhone processors. Apple is already partly invested in Imagination Technologies, which builds the PowerVR graphics chipset for current iPhones, but the company's long-term plans for its involvement aren't clear.
Outside of mobile devices, Apple is also poised to be heavily dependent on the OpenCL standard it helped create and will enable with the release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard later this year. The format lets graphics hardware and multi-core CPUs accelerate general-purpose tasks like physics, video encoding or complex math and will be an option for both ATI-labeled and NVIDIA graphics chips. [via The Inquirer]