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Apple reportedly adding more graphics chip experts to team

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Apple isn't done building its arsenal of chip designers, according to a new report, which claims the company will acquire the services of yet another expert who's enjoyed a long and successful tenure with the ATI/AMD camp.

Citing sources close to Apple, the Inquirer is reporting that one of AMD's chief technology officers, Raja Koduri, will follow in the footsteps of colleague Bob Drebin, who's since joined the iPhone maker. The publication characterizes the chip expert as a visionary, stating that "anything he puts his mind to is going to be interesting, count on that."

Koduri began his professional career at S3 Graphics, where he spent four years as a director and engineering manager. In 2001, he made his way to ATI as Director of Advanced Technology Development and emerged as one of the leading designers of discrete graphics processors. With AMD's purchase of ATI in 2006, he assumed the title of chief technology officer of the firm's Graphics Product Group.

Word of Koduri's plans to join Apple comes just days after Drebin was reported to have accepted a Senior Director position at the Cupertino-based electronics maker. Like Koduri, he also once held the title of CTO of AMD's Graphics Product Group before departing a year ago to pursue unknown or personal interests.

Precisely where Koduri and Drebin fit into Apple's strategy remains unclear, though their vast knowledge of discrete graphics and chips for video game consoles are likely to play key roles in shaping the future of the company's Mac and iPhone product families.

Apple has been building a brigade of expert chip designers for more than a year now, spearheaded by its acquisition of the 150-person fabless chip design firm P.A. Semi for $278 million last April.

As AppleInsider has pointed out in several reports since then, it's widely believed that Apple is structuring a team capable of crafting a family of proprietary system-on-a-chip (SOC) designs that will provide the company with a sizable advantage over the broader market because, unlike the SoCs found in the existing iPhone and iPod touch, the new designs won't be accessible to competitors.

Mark Papermaster, the executive Apple poached from IBM last year to succeed Tony Fadell in leading the company's iPod and iPhone engineering teams, is also an chip specialist. Following a widely publicized court battle over the matter, Papermaster was ultimately cleared to assume his new role at Apple. He began last week.
post #2 of 37
imagine how awesome it would be to be able to play cod4 on the can with a thin tablet or netbook
post #3 of 37
Behold the Beast looms.


Apple's assembling an All Star team of graphics talent. If you look at their investment in technology and talent it's clear they realize the future is not desktop/laptop but the freaking do everything tricorder Star Trek "phaser on stun" portable device we've all seen in the geek movies.
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post #4 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

imagine how awesome it would be to be able to play cod4 on the can with a thin tablet or netbook

Your username takes on new meaning.
post #5 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

imagine how awesome it would be to be able to play cod4 on the can with a thin tablet or netbook

http://www.euslinger.de/Funstuff/itoilet.htm

A Kindle-sized tablet. Surf on the sofa, watch a video at the kitchen counter, GPS in the car, read a book on the porch, watch 30 Rock in the tub. Video chat. Google Voice calls...

Work use: it could replace a lot of bulky laptops in cop cars and ambulances. Plenty of conventional road warriors would prefer it to a laptop. Not everyone, but enough to build it. Medical staff. You might see retailers imitating Apple's on the spot POS system too.

The tablet form factor definitely has it's drawbacks. BUT - for home use I think it would be great. Toss it on the sofa like you would a phone. Maybe not quite like a phone, but not the way you have to be careful with a laptop.
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post #6 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Behold the Beast looms.


Apple's assembling an All Star team of graphics talent. If you look at their investment in technology and talent it's clear they realize the future is not desktop/laptop but the freaking do everything tricorder Star Trek "phaser on stun" portable device we've all seen in the geek movies.

Apple is an exciting place to be and as such they can attract the best and brightest.
post #7 of 37
"an chip specialist."!?
Please stop, Katie.
Beyond that ear grating bit, a very interesting article.
Can't wait to see what Apple will do.
post #8 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Apple is an exciting place to be and as such they can attract the best and brightest.

Besides innovative new work, it seems Apple may also be addressing some of their graphics deficiencies on the desktop side and reliability issues they have had with graphics cards.
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

http://www.euslinger.de/Funstuff/itoilet.htm

A Kindle-sized tablet. Surf on the sofa, watch a video at the kitchen counter, GPS in the car, read a book on the porch, watch 30 Rock in the tub. Video chat. Google Voice calls...

Work use: it could replace a lot of bulky laptops in cop cars and ambulances. Plenty of conventional road warriors would prefer it to a laptop. Not everyone, but enough to build it. Medical staff. You might see retailers imitating Apple's on the spot POS system too.

The tablet form factor definitely has it's drawbacks. BUT - for home use I think it would be great. Toss it on the sofa like you would a phone. Maybe not quite like a phone, but not the way you have to be careful with a laptop.

Sounds cool and with the newly expanded options for the doc connector you can easily plug in a 10 pound battery to get you through the day.

Seriously though - a major breakthrough in battery technology would be very helpful - not only in the small lightweight portable arena but also in larger products such as electric vehicles - talking about a battery that has many times the energy density of products on the market today with a fraction of the recharge time at the same cost to produce. something along these lines - http://www.businessgreen.com/busines...harges-battery - if they can get it to work (as in not just a lab demo - but a full scale industrial production line and cost effective consumer products).
post #10 of 37
The features of a device like iPhone, Mac have more to do with Apple proprietary software. The generic hardware makes it easy for Chinese copycats to crank iPhone with minimal investment. Will proprietary hardware, especially graphics chips keep illegal clones? May be make it more expensive.

Legitimate competitors like Google and its value chain will always get access to chips with competitive performance. History has shown that the best performance to price is obtained with chips that have huge economies of scale, profits that help fund continuing improvements. That is what benefited PC and Windows using the Intel/AMD, etc chips. Apple was forced to give low volume Motorola and IBM PPC chips since they did not have the volume to fund R&D and pricing. Compatibility issues also played a role.

Even IBM gave up the vertically integrated software+hardware model for many products... though not all.
post #11 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

imagine how awesome it would be to be able to play cod4 on the can with a thin tablet or netbook

imagine how awesome it would be if apple could fix the ati graphics glitches in their imacs.
post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0SX View Post

imagine how awesome it would be if apple could fix the ati graphics glitches in their imacs.

are you speaking of the recent 4850 glitches?
post #13 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

The features of a device like iPhone, Mac have more to do with Apple proprietary software. The generic hardware makes it easy for Chinese copycats to crank iPhone with minimal investment. Will proprietary hardware, especially graphics chips keep illegal clones? May be make it more expensive.

This is the plan exactly, by using custom chips Apple can ensure that no cloner can ever completely match the performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

... Legitimate competitors like Google and its value chain will always get access to chips with competitive performance. History has shown that the best performance to price is obtained with chips that have huge economies of scale, profits that help fund continuing improvements.

This is not necessarily true. Huge economies of scale do fund most chip development, but that doesn't always mess with the performance/price ratio AFAIK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

... Even IBM gave up the vertically integrated software+hardware model for many products... though not all.

Vertically integrated products work in some markets and for some products but not for others. You are using to big of a brush here in painting your picture. All evidence today seems to indicate that for computers in general, and specifically for mobile devices, that the vertical products are the best way to go.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #14 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

History has shown that the best performance to price is obtained with chips that have huge economies of scale, profits that help fund continuing improvements.

...


Even IBM gave up the vertically integrated software+hardware model for many products... though not all.

It appears that Apple has the willingness to spend a lot for video chip R & D, but it is indeed
a question whether they will order enough of these custom chips from their semiconductor
fabricating vendors to get a price that is competitive with commodity chips. I hope the fabs
value Apple's business enough to make favorable deals, because I think the vertically integrated
model will produce the best products.
post #15 of 37
I expect Apple to design a cadre of chips that will power mobile and small computing devices.

Apple already uses a Marvell chip (ARM licensee) for the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule.

ARM chips of course power the iPhone/iPod Touch

I expect that faster ARM based chips will power a tablet computing device and eventually
a storage array that Apple will have to create.

Some of these chips will have no need for graphics and others will have to offer a GPU built in tailored towards Apple's specific needs.
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post #16 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

imagine how awesome it would be to be able to play cod4 on the can with a thin tablet or netbook

Pee-uw!
post #17 of 37
I'm surprised nobody speculated about what this may mean for gaming on the Mac.

Does this mean that Apple is poised for a renewed Mac gaming push?
post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

I'm surprised nobody speculated about what this may mean for gaming on the Mac.

Does this mean that Apple is poised for a renewed Mac gaming push?

Especially on the AppleTV ala Wii with an iPod touch doing the motions.
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

I'm surprised nobody speculated about what this may mean for gaming on the Mac.

Does this mean that Apple is poised for a renewed Mac gaming push?

Yes ..but Apple will wisely leave the expense and effort to third party developers. I think mobile gaming is what they will entrench themselves with.
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post #20 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Especially on the AppleTV ala Wii with an iPod touch doing the motions.

It doesn't make sense for Apple to require you to plunk down at least $230 for a glorified WiiMote. The real WiiMote costs about $40. Presumably, Apple would need to manufacture a gutted iPod touch without storage and much less processing power but with the accelerometer.
post #21 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

It doesn't make sense for Apple to require you to plunk down at least $230 for a glorified WiiMote. The real WiiMote costs about $40. Presumably, Apple would need to manufacture a gutted iPod touch without storage and much less processing power but with the accelerometer.

Yes it does- Apple required me to plunk that down to get full functionality from a remote out of my Apple TV as it is right now.
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Yes it does- Apple required me to plunk that down to get full functionality from a remote out of my Apple TV as it is right now.

My girlfriend and I use her AppleTV with the white remote and with a harmony remote despite having the iPod touch with the remote app. There's no AppleTV functionality that *requires* a device with the remote software on it, even though it's more convenient at times.

Presumably, the remote app is just a prototype of the future AppleTV remote, which will be a separate piece of hardware that will replace the existing white remote.
post #23 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

My girlfriend and I use her AppleTV with the white remote and with a harmony remote despite having the iPod touch with the remote app. There's no AppleTV functionality that *requires* a device with the remote software on it, even though it's more convenient at times.
.

Yes there is- "search" your own file by name rather than scrolling through thousand of files to find it. "Search" on the white remote only throws you into the iTunes store to buy.
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Yes there is- "search" your own file by name rather than scrolling through thousand of files to find it. "Search" on the white remote only throws you into the iTunes store to buy.

Wasn't aware of that..... that bites!
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

I'm surprised nobody speculated about what this may mean for gaming on the Mac.

Does this mean that Apple is poised for a renewed Mac gaming push?

More like a first time push. I know from time to time they give lip service to the idea of mac gaming but seem to do little to actually push forward this concept. Especially if you look at the historically week cards they tend to select for the consumer models. Imho.
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post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by randythot View Post

Besides innovative new work, it seems Apple may also be addressing some of their graphics deficiencies on the desktop side and reliability issues they have had with graphics cards.

I think they are building a GPGPU solution that doesn't compete or detract from sales of Nvidia or ATi. It reminds me of the thought of having 48 cores of Cell-like processors for the x86 platform. This will be for the Mac Pro and the rest of the desktop lineup with a scaled down solution for the Laptop and later iPhone platforms. Just speculation, but I see them targeting the largest form-factor first and the smallest last.
post #27 of 37
Can't imagine an Apple TV being able to stream HD movies at minimal data rates based on graphics chips compressions, etc.

Isn't that what this article essentially says is coming?

http://www.engadgethd.com/2009/04/25...d-ray-footage/


Maybe they should buy red?
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by trevc View Post

Can't imagine an Apple TV being able to stream HD movies at minimal data rates based on graphics chips compressions, etc.

Isn't that what this article essentially says is coming?

http://www.engadgethd.com/2009/04/25...d-ray-footage/


Maybe they should buy red?

They'd rather have their platform make the content for HD than sell hype.
post #29 of 37
Gaming on a generic PC box is getting old-fashioned even on the Windows side. The market for gaming top-gear is extremely thin. Outside the top 5 most developed countries is close to 0. Could you imagine who are the people in China, India, Russia or Brasil who will buy an expensive PC box for gaming mainly. Well, there are people that will, those who are driving Mmaybach or Mercedes at a minimum, or their kids. Does it makes sense to target this market? How much market share you will gain if you succeed to push out some of the competition out of the 1% market niche (I am pretty sure it is less than that worldwide)? Well, there is more to this, because there are many sites and magazines which publish reviews and benchmarks and praise the winers, so there is some room for adding respect to the brand, but is it worth the investment?

There are plenty of reasons to improve the GPU hardware, but gaming is not the number one. Even the game console market is not large enough for Apple IMO.

Apple may get casual gaming on iPhone, AppleTV or new hardware but I don't think it is going to be the #1 feature. I mean personal movies, photos, your digital life comes first. Then [may be] gaming. Casual gaming. It is a much bigger market. These are the people who bought a computer for other purposes, like doing a real work or media/communication activities (Web, mail, instant messaging) and play a game or two from time to time. But those are not the kind of games which require lots of graphics power.
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

I think they are building a GPGPU solution that doesn't compete or detract from sales of Nvidia or ATi.

I'm think more along the lines of a vector processor that sits in one of the processor slots on a dual chip motherboard. Ideally such a processor would be fully integrated into the SMP arraingement with cache coherency and the like. The would be fantastic even if there are less than 48 cores of vector processing. The vector processors on cell are very interesting but I'm thinking the iterface to them might be different. The idea is sound though and prevents issues with overloading the GPU.
Quote:
It reminds me of the thought of having 48 cores of Cell-like processors for the x86 platform. This will be for the Mac Pro and the rest of the desktop lineup with a scaled down solution for the Laptop and later iPhone platforms.

It depends on the approach taken of course but I'd expect quick broad application across the board. Different performance levels certainly, but this could put a very positive light on OpenCL apps, especially on machines with lower capability GPUs. Not to mention is the idea that a purpose built vector processor can be optimized in ways a GPU can't.
Quote:
Just speculation, but I see them targeting the largest form-factor first and the smallest last.

Possibly, but I could also see the opposite as the custom hardware would mean better usage of low end GPUs. I just can't see Apple building their own GPUs even if they have a lot of IP. That is why I see potential in an Apple vector processor. Designed right it could fill the gap between what a CPU does well and what a GPU does well.

It certainly exciting times at Apple. The biggest problem is that these are recent hires, so we won't be seeing benefit from their input for awhile. However you would think that something from PA would hit soon.


Dave
post #31 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Especially on the AppleTV ala Wii with an iPod touch doing the motions.

g
God no. If they are going to do motion properly at least learn from nintendo's mistake and include gyroscopes. The infrared pointer is the most awesome tech in the Wii remote as it currently stands. I would love Apple tv to step into the game space but as only as long as it can attract quality developers. It saddens me to see the flood of half-baked casual copycat games on the Wii when original and innovative ideas are getting lost in the crowd.
post #32 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Behold the Beast looms.


Apple's assembling an All Star team of graphics talent. If you look at their investment in technology and talent it's clear they realize the future is not desktop/laptop but the freaking do everything tricorder Star Trek "phaser on stun" portable device we've all seen in the geek movies.

LOL! So I'm not the only one who realizes this it seems.
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post

More like a first time push. I know from time to time they give lip service to the idea of mac gaming but seem to do little to actually push forward this concept. Especially if you look at the historically week cards they tend to select for the consumer models. Imho.

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Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
- Indian Proverb.
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post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

I'm surprised nobody speculated about what this may mean for gaming on the Mac.

Does this mean that Apple is poised for a renewed Mac gaming push?

A dedicated console, maybe? iPlay or iGame?

That would be interesting to see.
post #35 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

It appears that Apple has the willingness to spend a lot for video chip R & D, but it is indeed
a question whether they will order enough of these custom chips from their semiconductor
fabricating vendors to get a price that is competitive with commodity chips. I hope the fabs
value Apple's business enough to make favorable deals, because I think the vertically integrated
model will produce the best products.

If these chips go in the iPhone and the itouch, that would be plenty.

Two reasons for that.

The first is that there will be a lot of sales of those two devices in one year. Possibly 30 million, and later 40, maybe more. That's a lot of devices, esp. if the same chip goes into them all.

The second reason is that the economies of scale are not what most people think when it comes to computers, or even phones. With all the computers sold each year, you would think that it's big scales they're working on, but not so.

There are a lot of levels of computers as far as cpus used. Most don't sell in more than the tens of millions.

Other than Intel's GMA chips, the same thing is true of gpu's. Even less.

The highest end gaming boards sell no more than a few hundred, sometimes fewer. You can see this from the sites that report on this and test the boards.

So if Apple can make chips that are used by them in the millions, they will have about the same economies of scale as everyone else, perhaps more in some cases.
post #36 of 37
I think Apple is just going for greater profit margins in the mobile devices. The more functions you can put on one chip, the cheaper the device will be and you can also build it smaller and make room for things like a bigger battery. I don't think that Apple can necessarily build a better graphics or processor chip better than a major chip maker could. I'm guessing Apple is thinking that they can keep a proprietary chip to themselves, but that's probably hard in this day and age of corporate spying and reverse engineering. Maybe it could give them a slight jump on the rest of the industry though when new products are introduced. Apple is definitely spending money in the right direction if OpenCL is going to be in Apple's future.
post #37 of 37
khm... will gpgpu show within snow leopard then?

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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