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Apple CPU architect for iPhone, iPad departs for AMD

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
AMD announced on Wednesday that it has hired Jim Keller, who was previously a director in Apple's mobile platform architecture group where he worked on Apple's custom chips for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Keller, 53, joins AMD as corporate vice president and chief architect of its microprocessor cores. he will report to chief technology officer and senior vice president of technology and engineering Mark Papermaster, who is also an ex-Apple employee.

Papermaster left Apple in 2010 after he reportedly had a falling out with the company's then-chief-executive, Steve Jobs. Citing anonymous sources, The Wall Street Journal said Papermaster's exit was chiefly a result of "cultural incompatibility."

As for AMD's latest hire, Keller, he will lead AMD's microprocessor core design efforts, focused on developing high-performance and low-power processor cores that the company said will be the foundation of its future projects. Keller came to Apple in 2008, when his previous company P.A. Semi was acquired by the iPhone maker.

Keller was responsible for building Apple's custom System on a Chip designs that power the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV. Apple's custom CPUs include the A4 processor found in the first-generation iPad and iPhone 4, the A5 found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, and the A5X that powers the third-generation iPad with Retina display.

Keller
Jim Keller, via PC Watch.


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

Before working with Apple and P.A. Semi, Keller was with SiByte and Broadcom as chief architect for a line of scalable, MIPS-based network processors that supported 1Gig networking interfaces, PCI and other control functions. Before Broadcom, he spent several years at AMD as part of the design team responsible for the AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Opteron 64 processors, which featured the world's first native x86-64-bit architecture.
post #2 of 29
finally, an end to the "Bulldozer" debacle... (for the desktop)
post #3 of 29

I'm sure the Apple gig was great but Papermaster upgraded him from a director level position to Group VP (essentially a two level upgrade) with a lot more control of what he does.  Of course, he has to work for AMD, which is a problem.  They need all the help they can get right now.

post #4 of 29
Impossible. Apple has no engineers - only marketers. How can you hire away something that doesn't exist? /S

On a serious note, this seems like it could be a loss for Apple. Or maybe Apple's hiring of a former AMD engineer for GPU's was to help fill in the gap.
post #5 of 29

How important is AMD to Apple? Apple can buy AMD with only one month of profit (2.5B) and it doesn't. 

post #6 of 29
So Apple hires an AMD architect and AMD hires an Apple architect, I see, is this a conspiracy in the making!
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Torcato View Post

How important is AMD to Apple? Apple can buy AMD with only one month of profit (2.5B) and it doesn't. 

 

 

Does it matter. Corporates do not wash their clothes for ˝us˝ to see.

post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by festerfeet View Post

So Apple hires an AMD architect and AMD hires an Apple architect, I see, is this a conspiracy in the making!

 

 

Indeed!

post #9 of 29
Jim sure changes places of employment a lot.

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post #10 of 29

I would guess that the conversation went something like this:

 

Papermaster: So, Jim, when do your Apple shares vest?

 

Keller: They just vested, so I'm good.

 

Papermaster: How'd you like to come work at a place where you aren't treated like dirt? I've enjoyed life a lot more since I left.

 

Keller: That might be interesting. What have you got in mind?

 

Papermaster: I'll put you in charge of our mobile development and a few other things where we need to improve our thermal envelope. You know data centers are even conscious of power consumption these days. Besides, we need a fresh look at our architectures in general.

 

Keller: OK, if I did come on board, just how much freedom of action will I have?

 

Papermaster: We are a team, but you will be one of the leaders. You won't have someone micromanaging your every thought either. You know what I mean.

 

Keller: When do you want me?

 

:-)

post #11 of 29

He's a traitor.  Good Riddance.

post #12 of 29

AMD could offer him something Apple couldn't or wouldn't. Right or wrong its good for people to move on. Not for the company that employs them, but for them personally. His CV has a lot of moves in it already.

post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

On a serious note, this seems like it could be a loss for Apple. Or maybe Apple's hiring of a former AMD engineer for GPU's was to help fill in the gap.

 

Considering he left Apple in 2010, doesn't seem like its been too much of a loss.  He has a strong history tho and it looks like he is returning home to AMD, so good for him. 

 

To the talk of Apple buying AMD, that wouldn't be a good fit at all.  Imagine if Apple bought AMD and then only used them for making Apple specific processors and video cards.  All of a sudden, you would have one less competitor for Intel (and the only one that has amounted to much serious competition in the x86 world) and NVIDIA would lose the only competitor it has.  That would be bad all the way around, especially for consumers.

 

EDIT: I read that wrong.  Corrected by igxqrrl


Edited by SSquirrel - 8/1/12 at 8:10am
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post

 

Considering he left Apple in 2010, doesn't seem like its been too much of a loss.  He has a strong history tho and it looks like he is returning home to AMD, so good for him. 

 

He's leaving Apple now, not in 2010. Papermaster left in 2010.

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySwitched26 View Post

He's a traitor.  Good Riddance.

 

what is / was about Keller that made you state such a thing?  i'm not familiar with his conduct.

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by emacs72 View Post

 

what is / was about Keller that made you state such a thing?  i'm not familiar with his conduct.

 

 

He's working for a company that wants to kill Apple's suppliers.  He quit Apple.  

post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by festerfeet View Post

So Apple hires an AMD architect and AMD hires an Apple architect, I see, is this a conspiracy in the making!

Not that I'd ever get into conspiracy theories. Perhaps these moves are swaps in advance of the take over of AMD by Apple ... Oh, oops ...
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
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post #18 of 29

He's going back home to AMD. If you read the whole piece, this is where he spent the most time.

 

Culture is usually underrated by people, but it's huge. If you are in a company and not comfortable with the culture, you want out. And you should get out if you can. It's best for everybody, including the company you are leaving.
 

post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySwitched26 View Post

 

 

He's working for a company that wants to kill Apple's suppliers.  He quit Apple.  

 

AMD wants to kill Apple's suppliers?  If you are referring to Intel that's laughable.  a)AMD is nowhere near challenging Intel and b)w/all the cross licensing they have, if Intel went away and they lost access to all that cross licensing, it would hurt AMD significantly.

post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySwitched26 View Post

 

 

He's working for a company that wants to kill Apple's suppliers.  He quit Apple.  

 

 

i'm keen to see whatever citations you have to support your opinion(s).

 

side note: Keller was employed at AMD before he joined Apple.  Keller helped develop the first iterations of the Athlon and Opteron line of CPUs at AMD.

post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySwitched26 View Post

 

 

I'm sorry if I was confusing you with AppleSpeak terminology. 

 

"Kill" means "compete with".  As is "Google wants to kill the iPhone".  As in "The next 'iPhone killer'".  

 

All actions are extreme black or white in AppleSpeak.   I thought that it would be understood.

 

Yeah, not so much.  Most of us speak in pretty straightforward terms and that is appreciated if yuo want people to know what the **** you are trying to say :)

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBR View Post

 

Papermaster: How'd you like to come work at a place where you aren't treated like dirt?

Really? They treat people like dirt at Apple? No wonder they are all fleeing the sinking ship, then.

post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevenfeet View Post

I'm sure the Apple gig was great but Papermaster upgraded him from a director level position to Group VP (essentially a two level upgrade) with a lot more control of what he does.  Of course, he has to work for AMD, which is a problem.  They need all the help they can get right now.

What is wrong with AMD? They have a few very competitive processors in competition with Intel. They Basicaly blew Atom out of the water with their BRAZOS line of APUs. At the other end their high end APUs currently headed up by Triity are very good chips that result in very balanced performance.

Sure things have slipped and frankly Bulldozer is a bit of a performance disappointment. It is not however an innovation disappointment and is a base from which AMD can grow a competitive line of products. Of course performance can be highly variable and in the case of Bulldozer it actually has areas where it does very well.

On top of all of this they have an excellent line of GPU chips so again where does this idea come from that they need all the help they can get? Underdog yes; failure no!
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBR View Post

I would guess that the conversation went something like this:

 

Papermaster: So, Jim, when do your Apple shares vest?

 

Keller: They just vested, so I'm good.

 

Papermaster: How'd you like to come work at a place where you aren't treated like dirt? I've enjoyed life a lot more since I left.

 

Keller: That might be interesting. What have you got in mind?

 

Papermaster: I'll put you in charge of our mobile development and a few other things where we need to improve our thermal envelope. You know data centers are even conscious of power consumption these days. Besides, we need a fresh look at our architectures in general.

 

Keller: OK, if I did come on board, just how much freedom of action will I have?

 

Papermaster: We are a team, but you will be one of the leaders. You won't have someone micromanaging your every thought either. You know what I mean.

 

Keller: When do you want me?

 

:-)

 

you should write a screen play :)

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post #25 of 29

Papermaster had been at IBM before Apple - and was involved in a lawsuit with IBM over non-compete and trade secret issues that prevented him from starting to work at Apple for an extended period of time.

 

It is easy for the press to make these "executives" seem like they are solely responsible for a product.   "Keller was responsible for building Apple's custom System on a Chip designs"

 

But there is actually a team of people working on those SoC's.

 

There is a large collection of "executives" who seem to move around to high profile jobs where they are more a figurehead or a marketing person than some incredible visionary or game changer.  Keller and Papermaster seem to fit that.  They must be great politicians or hypnotists because they always seem to getting press for there next job.  

 

If you have worked for a while you know you have seen managers like this - everyone always is wonder "wtf does that guy do?"   or "how the heck did he get that job?".  They are experts at self-promotion and telling upper management what they want to hear, but if you work for them you think they are worthless.  

 

Maybe Keller and Papermaster are no longer at Apple because that crap does not fly there.  We can only hope.  

post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by haar View Post

finally, an end to the "Bulldozer" debacle... (for the desktop)

As a Mac user, I watched safely from the comfort of my Core i7.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #27 of 29

Cultural differences?  Well, I really can't see Steve being a huge fan of Spinal Tap, and AMD must of said they'll let him go up to 11.  Godspeed Jim.

post #28 of 29

About a couple of decades ago, I used to feel shocked when some engineer or designer left a cool company in favor of a dumb one. It was like if such engineers didn't care about the products they designed. They didn't care designing OpenGL or DirectX, they seem to consider Windows as good as UNIX, and, it seemed these guys weren't able to tell the difference between a $100 wine bottle or a $4 one (unless they saw the price, sure).

 

In the past, there have always been an small subset of engineers who can tell the difference between a good and a bad design, and who really love what they're doing. But a vast majority didn't

 

But nowadays, there's a different situation. The market is different, the success and failure of companies arrives in surprising ways, and I no longer blame engineers for leaving cool companies. I say "hey, if you can build a good future and you can work doing useful stuff, run for your life, even if it's at Microsoft".

 

Anyway, there's always the engineer who can't tell a good from a cheap wine. The words of Wozniak after seeing the Microsoft Surface are... well... no comment.

post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevenfeet View Post

I'm sure the Apple gig was great but Papermaster upgraded him from a director level position to Group VP (essentially a two level upgrade) with a lot more control of what he does.  Of course, he has to work for AMD, which is a problem.  They need all the help they can get right now.

 

How is this a problem? You are just assuming that working for Apple equates to a better job for him than working for AMD. Given that we're on Appleinsider, perhaps you believe no one should ever leave Apple once they're in the door :P. Beyond that you ignore potential benefits to Apple. AMD is one of their suppliers. If AMD produces better products, it only serves to increase Apple's options in the Mac lineup. You should really get past the idea that working for AMD is a definitive step down as it's never that simple when examined objectively.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


What is wrong with AMD? They have a few very competitive processors in competition with Intel. They Basicaly blew Atom out of the water with their BRAZOS line of APUs. At the other end their high end APUs currently headed up by Triity are very good chips that result in very balanced performance.
Sure things have slipped and frankly Bulldozer is a bit of a performance disappointment. It is not however an innovation disappointment and is a base from which AMD can grow a competitive line of products. Of course performance can be highly variable and in the case of Bulldozer it actually has areas where it does very well.
On top of all of this they have an excellent line of GPU chips so again where does this idea come from that they need all the help they can get? Underdog yes; failure no!

I would ask the same thing. Given the comments, you would think they were a train wreck with no future. Too many people just read the article rather than considering fundamentals..

Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

About a couple of decades ago, I used to feel shocked when some engineer or designer left a cool company in favor of a dumb one. It was like if such engineers didn't care about the products they designed. They didn't care designing OpenGL or DirectX, they seem to consider Windows as good as UNIX, and, it seemed these guys weren't able to tell the difference between a $100 wine bottle or a $4 one (unless they saw the price, sure).

 

In the past, there have always been an small subset of engineers who can tell the difference between a good and a bad design, and who really love what they're doing. But a vast majority didn't

 

But nowadays, there's a different situation. The market is different, the success and failure of companies arrives in surprising ways, and I no longer blame engineers for leaving cool companies. I say "hey, if you can build a good future and you can work doing useful stuff, run for your life, even if it's at Microsoft".

 

Anyway, there's always the engineer who can't tell a good from a cheap wine. The words of Wozniak after seeing the Microsoft Surface are... well... no comment.


You're looking at this in the wrong way! The guy makes a very good living either way. If he feels he can make a bigger difference at AMD or see better career growth there, why remain at Apple? Apple is the bigger company. You think it's cooler, yet you're projecting your own preconceived opinions on someone you (likely) do not know.

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