Google hires Apple's Manu Gulati as in-house SoC Architect

June 14, 2017 // 11:18 a.m.

Tags: #apple #apple-ax #arm #chip-design #google #homebrew #imagination-technologies #in-house #ip #manu-gulati #powervr #qualcomm #semiconductor #soc #soc-architect #system-on-chip

Google appears to be following Apple in bringing more of its chip design work in-house, hiring away processor architect Manu Gulati from the Cupertino-based company to act in the newly created role of System on Chip (SoC) Architect.

That Apple has been increasingly shifting its mobile system on chip (SoC) design work in-house is no secret: The company hired former AMD staff back in 2013, acquired chip design firm Intrinsity - formerly Exponential Technology - in 2010, and acquired a small semiconductor fab in 2015 for prototype creation. The company introduced its own-brand ARM SoCs in 2007 with the APL0098 in the original iPhone smartphone, though it wasn't until the launch of the Apple A4 in 2010 that the company truly began to break away from off-the-shelf IP and worked on flexing its own design muscles. Since then, the Apple Ax family has been a performance leader, and earlier this year the company announced it was dropping Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GPU IP in favour of homebrew designs - marking the first time in the company's history it has developed both CPU and GPU IP internally, albeit with the former based on licensed ARM IP.

Now it appears Google is looking to follow in the company's footsteps. Variety reports that the company has hired Manu Gulati, who has been leading Apple's chip development work for the past eight years, into the newly created role of 'Lead System on Chip Architect'. This marks the first time Google has telegraphed a desire to design its own SoC hardware for future smartphones and tablets, having previously relied upon providing design notes and desired specifications to external companies like HTC and LG to build its flagship, Google-branded mobile devices.

The hire comes nearly a year after Google unveiled its first in-house processor project, the AI-focused Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which it has since rolled out to its cloud platforms and begun to offer hosted variants of for third-party research and development use.

Neither Google nor Apple have commented on Gulati's hiring.

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