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

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?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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