Apple hunts for System-on-a-Chip Architect for A6 successor?

Apple hunts for System-on-a-Chip Architect for A6 successor?

Summary: An Apple job posting gives us a tantalizing glimpse into what the Cupertino giant might have in the pipeline over the coming months and years. Is Apple planning to dump Intel? Are OS X tablets in the pipeline?


An Apple job posting for an 'SoC Modelling Architect / Lead' gives us an insight into what the Cupertino giant may have planned for the future.

The job is described as an "unique and highly visible role" where the successful candidate will "will be at the center of a chip design effort interfacing with all disciplines". Apple is looking for someone with 10 or more years of SoC (System-on-a-Chip) design and microarchitecture experience, with specific focus on performance modeling, and with expertise in SoC level performance models including CPUs, GPUs, memory systems, and power modeling.

So, where's Apple going with this? A few ideas spring irresistibly to mind.

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First and foremost is that Apple is looking for someone to take control of its A5 and A6 processor designs, and take these into the future. These processors are used in devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and these devices are now a cash powerhouse for the Cupertino giant, pulling in billions of dollars every quarter.

Another possibility is that Apple is looking to dump Intel processors in its Macs and shift to its own silicon. While there's no doubt that this would be attractive to Apple, a company which likes to have as much control as possible over every aspect of its products, it wouldn't come easy, and would involve massive reworking of OS X. By taking greater control over the silicon that powers its hardware, Apple would be able to squeeze more performance and battery life from the hardware.

Processors designed in-house are also likely to be cheaper than anything the company can source from Intel, while at the same time keeping a tighter control over the all-important supply chain.

It could also open up the possibility for new classes of hardware. One such device could be an OS X powered tablet that would allow Apple to compete against the tsunami of Windows 8-powered tablets slated to hit shelves over the next few weeks and months. Looking at OS X and the direction that it seems to be going in suggests that Apple could be preparing to put OS X on a touch-enabled device.

Think there's no demand for an OS X tablet? Think again. Los Angeles-based ModBook has started taking pre-orders for its 13.3-inch ModBook Pro, a custom tablet system built out of a MacBook Pro. The cost is an eye-watering $3,499 -- and that's just for the base model.

No matter what, I have no doubt Apple has some interesting things in the pipeline.

Image source: Apple.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Processors

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  • Apple won't make Microsoft's mistakes

    Apple knew long ago that it needed separate OSes for desktop computer and mobile device.

    Apple's not going to do a Microsoft and shove a desktop OS on a phone (like Windows Mobile), or a mobile interface on a desktop (the coming Windows 8 disaster).

    Apple's OS X and iOS will remain separate OSes.
  • Its inevitable

    Apple will merge OSX and iOS and so will Google who will merge Android with Chrome. Love it or hate it, this is the next logical step and Microsoft had a foresight to do this with Windows 8.
    • Really?

      Microsoft and foresight in the same sentence?
      • LOL

        nt (adding text to pass spam filter, ladidadida)
  • It is the only outcome....

    .... as companies don't want to maintain two different OS's.
    The reason iOS and OSX went on different paths back in 2007 (probably before) was out of necessity. As these SoC processors get more powerful with each passing year, it is the only logical conclusion.
  • Eventually...

    Eventually I think they will try to move Macs over to their own ARM designs. This will be the death of the Mac. All they'll do is keep the "Mac" name and change it entirely into a more power-user type iOS device, and the Mac as we know it will be dead. So all the iOS lovers will praise them, and the Mac name will live on, but they will be entirely different machines only running software specifically made for them again... no decent way to run Windows software anymore. The main thing that helped Macs usage rise in the recent years was the fact they had compatibility because of the x86 processor... when its gone, the Mac goes back down.