updated 03:35 pm EST, Fri December 31, 2010
Apple hiring CPU architect for future iOS hardware
Apple in a low-profile move has posted a job listing for a CPU Microarchitect. The hire would work out of the company's Cupertino headquarters to shape the microarchitecture of a processor. Like most positions, it didn't give a clue as to the product but stressed the mobile side, as the team member would focus on designing around "power, [clock speed] timing, and [chip] area."
The company has one other job entry from April with a similar description.
The A4 chip in the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is already known to have some customization, but it has mostly been a mild spin on the reference ARM Cortex-A8 architecture used in Samsung's Android phones and most other devices. Despite having acquired PA Semi in April 2009, the company may not have used its talent and may be hiring to go beyond mild adaptations. A low key deal to buy Intrinsity may have been a clue as to its plans, as the company helped optimize the Samsung Galaxy S' energy draw and performance to give it an edge over most other Android alternatives.
Completely new chips aren't expected as Apple is unlikely to go so far as to design a whole architecture.
Any hirings from the past year would likely have been too soon to affect 2011 hardware. The next iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are most likely to use ARM's Cortex-A9 and could step up to dual-core processors if heat and power concerns allow. Other companies will leap to a similar architecture, including LG in the Optimus 2X and RIM for the BlackBerry PlayBook, but these usually have to rely on outside, more generalized work from NVIDIA or Qualcomm. [via AppleInsider]