August 2, 2012

Apple Exec Jim Keller Takes AMD Job

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Yet another Apple executive has left the company as Jim Keller, Apple´s (now former) Director of Platform Architecture, makes his way back to familiar territory at Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD.

While at Apple, Keller led the teams responsible for the A4, A5 and A5X chips inside the iPad and iPhone 4 and 4S models. It´s likely Keller had some sort of influence on any other “A” based chip we see in future Apple devices.

Keller will also be joining one of his old Apple co-workers once he arrives at AMD. Mark Papermaster, who is unfortunately known as the executive who left in the wake of Apple´s “Antennagate” kerfuffle, worked as senior vice president for mobile devices at Apple before leaving in 2010. He now works for AMD as the CTO and senior vice president of technology and engineering.

No stranger to AMD, Keller was also instrumental in the development of the x86 and x64 processor instructor set used in AMD´s 2003 Athlon 64 and Opteron 64 processors. Now, he´ll join the company as the corporate vice president and chief architect of microprocessor cores.

Before moving to Apple in an acquisition in 2008, Keller worked for P.A Semi, a fabless semiconductor design firm which made low-power processors. Keller led the team responsible for building System on a Chip (SoC) processors and PowerPC processors.

“Jim is one of the most widely respected and sought-after innovators in the industry and a very strong addition to our engineering team,” said Papermaster in a statement from AMD.

“He has contributed to processing innovations that have delivered tremendous compute advances for millions of people all over the world, and we expect that his innovative spirit, low-power design expertise, creativity and drive for success will help us shape our future and fuel our growth.”

This is the second AMD-Apple related employee move in recent weeks. Last week, Apple hired former AMD chip designer John Bruno to work as a system architect.

While the loss of Bruno was seen as bad news for AMD, bringing Keller back has been a refreshing sight for those watching the chip makers. .

Analyst Patrick Moorhead, with Moor Insights and Strategy, says these recent AMD and Apple moves are a sure sign that both companies are looking for the best in low-power and multi purpose processors. Keller´s welcome back to AMD can be seen as a sign that AMD will try to refocus their attentions on mobile devces, particularly tablets. AMD´s rivals, such as Intel, have been leading the charge in this respect, gaining very valuable ground against AMD.

"This is a good hire for AMD. Not only is Keller a good designer with winning project experience, but most importantly he has expertise in SoCs and the lowest-power CPU cores. AMD has made tremendous progress with Trinity and Brazos on performance per watt but this is in the PC, not the mobile space," Moorhead said, speaking to PCMag.