WSJ: Apple builds its own team to design chips

“Apple Inc. is building a significant capability to design its own computer chips, a strategy shift that the company hopes will create exclusive features for its gadgets and shield Apple’s work from rivals,” Yukari Iwatani Kane and Don Clark report for The Wall Street Journal.

MacDailyNews Take: True, yet the “shift” is nothing new. It became clearly apparent a year ago when Apple bought microprocessor design company PA Semi for $278 million in cash on April 23, 2008.

Kane and Clark report, “The Silicon Valley trend-setter has been hiring people from many different segments of the semiconductor industry, including engineers to create multifunction chips that are used in cellphones to run software and carry out other chores.”

“Apple could use the internally developed chips to sharply reduce the power consumption of its hit iPhone and iPod touch devices, and possibly add graphics circuitry to help its hardware play realistic game software and high-definition videos, people familiar with its plans say,” Kane and Clark report.

“Besides a desire to beat rivals to market with new features, Apple’s shift is also an effort to share fewer details about its technology plans with external chip suppliers, say people familiar with the moves,” Kane and Clark report. “The new effort faces plenty of hurdles, and people familiar with Apple’s plans don’t expect internally designed chips to emerge until next year at the earliest.”

“People familiar with Apple’s plans expect former P.A. Semi engineers to help create ARM-based chips that could improve the performance and battery life of future iPhones,” Kane and Clark report.

“Apple’s hiring spree in semiconductors started well before the acquisition and has continued through the past few months, according to postings on the networking site LinkedIn,” Kane and Clark report. “The site contains more than 100 people listing current Apple job titles and past expertise in chips, including veterans of Intel Corp., Samsung and Qualcomm Inc.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote on Tuesday, “We recommend that senior executives of mobile device makers who rely on off-the-shelf chips (that’d be basically everyone, but Apple) immediately stock up on Depends. Get the Boost Inserts. You’re gonna need all the capacity you can get.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “iSteve” and “Mark M.” for the heads up.]

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