Google’s stolen a veteran micro-architect away from Apple’s clutches in order to spearhead its own plans to build chips for the Pixel. The search giant has been rumored to be working on such an endeavor for a while now.
Manu Gulati, the ex-Apple employee in question, had been working for the company for over 8 years when he left. He played a big role in advancing the brand’s efforts to build custom chipsets for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. He publicly announced his now job status on LinkedIn recently, with his profile now stating that he’s Google’s Lead SoC Architect.
This is a major step forward for Google, allowing it to move away from relying on third-party manufacturers like Qualcomm for its flagship phones. Almost all premium handsets carry the latter’s top-of-the-line chips, making differentiation a key issue.
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Apple is usually streets ahead when it comes to performance since its in-house CPUs allow it to tightly integrate software with hardware. Google developing its own SoC could change this status quo in a big way. It’s also looking to hire more chip experts, posting job offers for a ‘Mobile SoC CPU Architect’ who will ‘help define the architecture of future generations of phone and tablet’ chipsets.
Having a custom-made processor at the heart of the Pixel is likely key to the lineup’s future success. Virtual and augmented reality experiences will require a powerful chip to play smoothly. Moreover, apps driven by machine learning require firms to shift from relying on the cloud for answers to local devices in order to reduce latency times.
This change would necessitate signal processors optimized for machine learning to be integrated directly onto a phone’s chipset. This in turn would entail closely controlling the design of the chip, which is where Gulati steps in.