Here's Johny Srouji: Apple's newest executive pioneered company's custom A-series chips

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2015
After playing integral roles in two of Apple's most important product innovations --?its custom A-series processors and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor --?Johny Srouji has been rewarded with a new title that sees him reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.




As part of a series of changes among Apple's top brass, Srouji has been named senior vice president of Hardware Technologies. The title makes him the newest member of Apple's executive team.

An Arab-Israeli from the city of Haifa, Srouji earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Computer Science at Technion --?Israel Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Apple, he worked in silicon design at both Intel, where he was senior manager of its Israel Design Center, and IBM, as director of development of its Power 7 processor unit.

When he started at Apple, Srouji's title was senior director of handheld chips and VLSI (very-large-scale integration). It was in that role that he spearheaded development of the A4 processor, a landmark achievement for Apple that paved the way for advancements in future iPhones and iPads.


Apple's Johny Srouji, left, with Israel President Reuven Rivlin. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom, Israel Government Press Office.


Apple's silicon development originally led to the A4, its first custom-designed System on a Chip, debuting in the iPad in 2010. Since then, Apple's electricity sipping CPUs have become even more powerful, most notably with the desktop-class A9X processor found in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Srouji was also involved in creating the first Touch ID fingerprint sensor Apple first introduced in the iPhone 5s in 2013, according to Israeli publication Haaretz.




His expertise doesn't stop there, however: Apple also noted that he has also overseen in-house developments of new battery, storage and display technology.

Srouji's appointment to senior vice president Hardware Technologies puts his title essentially on par with Dan Riccio, Apple's senior vice president of Hardware Engineering. Riccio has been with Apple since 1998, and currently leads the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod engineering teams.

In years past, Apple's semiconductor teams were overseen by Bob Mansfield, also a hardware engineer. But in 2013, he relinquished his role on Apple's executive team, taking on a smaller position working on special projects under Cook, the CEO.

Srouji's new, more visible role at Apple only serves to emphasize the importance of the company's in-house silicon development, a key hardware facet that helps to differentiate its products from competitors. Beyond the A-series chips in the iPhone and iPad, Apple also has custom M-series motion coprocessors for advanced low-power sensors, and the S1 silicon that powers the Apple Watch.

There have also been recent rumors that Apple could begin offering its own proprietary graphics processors as part of its A-series chips. Apple currently uses slightly modified PowerVR designs from Imagination Technologies, but an in-house GPU could allow for more powerful devices --?and could even potentially allow Apple to abandon Intel for an ARM-powered Mac.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    Hey, that's my dad's hometown!!!
    I bet, the families know each other  :)
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Why not? Apple has been able to license ARM and PowerVR arxchitectures and made it better than the competition(aka Qualcomm), so I don't see any reason for them to aim for independence to develop SoC for their Mac lines. 
  • Reply 3 of 18
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,740member
    I don't get why everyone thinks that Apple making their own Mac chip means it has to be ARM-based. Apple could make an x64-compatible chip.
    1983
  • Reply 4 of 18
    cool to see an israeli leading at apple.
  • Reply 5 of 18
    mr. h said:
    I don't get why everyone thinks that Apple making their own Mac chip means it has to be ARM-based. Apple could make an x64-compatible chip.
    but why!!!? seems much more likely that they continue to improve their ARM processor line and recompile-rewrite OS X software to run on it...and hope to get other devs on board to do the same...and offer x86 emulation as an interim solution for those who are slow to move.
  • Reply 6 of 18
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,740member
    schlack said:
    mr. h said:
    I don't get why everyone thinks that Apple making their own Mac chip means it has to be ARM-based. Apple could make an x64-compatible chip.
    but why!!!? seems much more likely that they continue to improve their ARM processor line and recompile-rewrite OS X software to run on it...and hope to get other devs on board to do the same...and offer x86 emulation as an interim solution for those who are slow to move.
    Windows compatibility. Do not underestimate how important this is.

    Look what happened when Microsoft tried to do an Arm-based Windows. It crashed and burned as no-one bothered to write apps for it. If Apple bring out an Arm-based Mac, the only way they’d get people to build apps for it is by abandoning x64 completely. This seems like an awful idea to me. I’m sure there’s plenty they could leverage from their Ax chips to deliver a better x64 chip than Intel, especially when it comes to GPU performance and low-end/low-power x64 chips.
    edited December 2015 larrya1983argonaut
  • Reply 7 of 18
    mr. h said:
    I don't get why everyone thinks that Apple making their own Mac chip means it has to be ARM-based. Apple could make an x64-compatible chip.
    There's an issue, and it's called Intel and AMD. Apple would need an x86 license from Intel, and an x86_64 license from AMD. AMD is easy, Intel is not. I've wargamed this scenario with people and there are ways it could happen, but there's a lot of variables involved. 
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Is this guy responsible for the S1 in the Apple Watch?
  • Reply 9 of 18
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,893member
    HomerS said:
    Why not? Apple has been able to license ARM and PowerVR arxchitectures and made it better than the competition(aka Qualcomm), so I don't see any reason for them to aim for independence to develop SoC for their Mac lines. 
    There is one option that very well could already be in the works, that would be a custom x86 chip made in collaboration with AMD or Intel. There is actually a good chance that this will happen as both AMD and Intel are now doing custom chips for high end users. Pushing custom into the consumer space is just a matter of time. Why custom, because effectively that piece of silicon is now the equivalent of a PCB for the 1990's. It is on the silicon where custom and unique engineering will be done. System On Chips already have most of the basis of a machine on silicon already, which just means there is now space for custom hardware. What will that custom hardware be? Hard to tell at the moment though custom circuitry to enable Siri type processing locally might be in order. That is custom signal processing who's sole purpose is to process voice commands. Further hardware to enable AI processing is another goal Apple should have on the map. Of course Apple can do all of this with a custom ARM based chip. There are actually lots of advantages to doing so long term, it is getting over the short term hump that is a problem. We have yet to see a high performance design for an A series chip so we really don't know how far Apple can go here. Every A series so far has been a low power design, it would be interesting to see what happens if Apple turned its engineers loose on a high performance design.
  • Reply 10 of 18
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,148moderator
    mr. h said:
    schlack said:
    but why!!!? seems much more likely that they continue to improve their ARM processor line and recompile-rewrite OS X software to run on it...and hope to get other devs on board to do the same...and offer x86 emulation as an interim solution for those who are slow to move.
    Windows compatibility. Do not underestimate how important this is.

    Look what happened when Microsoft tried to do an Arm-based Windows. It crashed and burned as no-one bothered to write apps for it. If Apple bring out an Arm-based Mac, the only way they’d get people to build apps for it is by abandoning x64 completely. This seems like an awful idea to me. I’m sure there’s plenty they could leverage from their Ax chips to deliver a better x64 chip than Intel, especially when it comes to GPU performance and low-end/low-power x64 chips.
    Wouldn't they instead rebuild all the APIs, libraries, etc to the underlying ARM-based instruction set, then have all the Mac software publishers recompile their apps rather than rewrite them?  Seems that would be the general process for transitioning to different CPU/GPU instruction sets.

    But yeah, they'd lose Windows compatibility.  
    edited December 2015
  • Reply 11 of 18
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    mr. h said:
    schlack said:
    but why!!!? seems much more likely that they continue to improve their ARM processor line and recompile-rewrite OS X software to run on it...and hope to get other devs on board to do the same...and offer x86 emulation as an interim solution for those who are slow to move.
    Windows compatibility. Do not underestimate how important this is.

    Look what happened when Microsoft tried to do an Arm-based Windows. It crashed and burned as no-one bothered to write apps for it. If Apple bring out an Arm-based Mac, the only way they’d get people to build apps for it is by abandoning x64 completely. This seems like an awful idea to me. I’m sure there’s plenty they could leverage from their Ax chips to deliver a better x64 chip than Intel, especially when it comes to GPU performance and low-end/low-power x64 chips.
    I think in 5 years there will be more and better apps available for iOS than Windows ever had. A crazy thought, I can gurantee there's already MORE but not yet desktop class.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    When people consider Apple using its A-series Silicon in Mac Lines, they forget a few critical points.

    - The 12" MacBook resurrection has been done with a reason. This will be the product that eventually gets converted to the ARM processor and serve as a beachhead for the rest of the Mac Line. And this transition will take place over roughly 2-3 years.

    - And Apple will retain Intel based Macs in a premium MacBook Pro avatar forever. This should take care of Windows compatibility issues. If you are ready to pay top dollar to Microsoft for a Windows license, why should Apple not get some premium as well?

    - There are some very major reasons why Apple came out with Metal - and how Apple has a huge advantage in how A series processors use the same contiguous memory for both CPU and GPU - which means there is no need to transfer blocks from RAM to VRAM and vice versa to do computation on the GPU. The modification on PowerVR is already so huge, that this no longer is anywhere close to PowerVR. They are just retaining some basic compatibility at the interface layer to allow easy upgrades. And in couple of versions, even that will be dropped.

    - In terms of software, Apple is well positioned. Its entire development stack is on XCode, and XCode has moved entirely to CLANG based compilation nearly 3 years back. Plus Swift is taking off big time as the way to code for Apple, and that is entirely CLANG based from the ground up. After the introduction of ARC, most of the legacy code in Apple has been converted to modern code to take advantage of ARC 3 years back - all this is CLANG based. Plus any software that is running on Intel processors is just 10 years old - so this is not that big a problem for Apple. In any case, the serious growth in Apple adoption in enterprise has happened only in the last 5 years - so Apple doesnt have nearly as big a problem with legacy code as people may think.

    - Apple has a ready Universal Binary format that can support ARM and Intel based code for transition purposes - and this can be generated from both Intel and ARM based Mac's because of CLANG.

    - XCode already generates the code for running the same project on Intel as well as iOS (Simulator is on Intel, whereas the device is on ARM). And to the programmer this is totally transparent and automatic.

    I think it is simply a matter of time till Apple gets comfortable and confident to switch to ARM entirely. Quite obviously there are Mac systems inside Apple that run on ARM.

    And people are already holding in their hands the first ARM based Mac. For the iPad Pro, it is just a software upgrade that adds a few extra OS components from Mac OS into iOS to make iOS into a full Mac. These software upgrades will come over time.
    fastasleepcornchip
  • Reply 13 of 18
    larryalarrya Posts: 552member
    I would never have gotten a Mac without the safety blanket of Windows compatibility.  While it's true that I have largely outgrown that need, I still need to be able to do updates to MS Project files and, very rarely, MS Access files; and for these tasks, I run Parallels. 

    No number of movie editing apps or drawing apps., and no level of iPad or iPhone continuity capabilities, no matter how awesome, will change this for me. If I have to do even one update to a stupid Access database, no matter how trivial, and I cannot, I have the wrong tool. 

    No Intel compatibility (with acceptable performance), no more Macs.  I doubt I am alone. 
  • Reply 14 of 18
    larrya said:
    I would never have gotten a Mac without the safety blanket of Windows compatibility.  While it's true that I have largely outgrown that need, I still need to be able to do updates to MS Project files and, very rarely, MS Access files; and for these tasks, I run Parallels. 

    No number of movie editing apps or drawing apps., and no level of iPad or iPhone continuity capabilities, no matter how awesome, will change this for me. If I have to do even one update to a stupid Access database, no matter how trivial, and I cannot, I have the wrong tool. 

    No Intel compatibility (with acceptable performance), no more Macs.  I doubt I am alone. 
    Has it ever occurred to you that if / when Apple introduces ARM-based Macs, that the Intel-based Macs will stick around for those that need it? Why do people assume that Apple will all of sudden stop selling Intel-Macs?
    tmay
  • Reply 15 of 18

    macarena said:
    When people consider Apple using its A-series Silicon in Mac Lines, they forget a few critical points.

    - The 12" MacBook resurrection has been done with a reason. This will be the product that eventually gets converted to the ARM processor and serve as a beachhead for the rest of the Mac Line. And this transition will take place over roughly 2-3 years.

    - And Apple will retain Intel based Macs in a premium MacBook Pro avatar forever. This should take care of Windows compatibility issues. If you are ready to pay top dollar to Microsoft for a Windows license, why should Apple not get some premium as well?

    - There are some very major reasons why Apple came out with Metal - and how Apple has a huge advantage in how A series processors use the same contiguous memory for both CPU and GPU - which means there is no need to transfer blocks from RAM to VRAM and vice versa to do computation on the GPU. The modification on PowerVR is already so huge, that this no longer is anywhere close to PowerVR. They are just retaining some basic compatibility at the interface layer to allow easy upgrades. And in couple of versions, even that will be dropped.

    - In terms of software, Apple is well positioned. Its entire development stack is on XCode, and XCode has moved entirely to CLANG based compilation nearly 3 years back. Plus Swift is taking off big time as the way to code for Apple, and that is entirely CLANG based from the ground up. After the introduction of ARC, most of the legacy code in Apple has been converted to modern code to take advantage of ARC 3 years back - all this is CLANG based. Plus any software that is running on Intel processors is just 10 years old - so this is not that big a problem for Apple. In any case, the serious growth in Apple adoption in enterprise has happened only in the last 5 years - so Apple doesnt have nearly as big a problem with legacy code as people may think.

    - Apple has a ready Universal Binary format that can support ARM and Intel based code for transition purposes - and this can be generated from both Intel and ARM based Mac's because of CLANG.

    - XCode already generates the code for running the same project on Intel as well as iOS (Simulator is on Intel, whereas the device is on ARM). And to the programmer this is totally transparent and automatic.

    I think it is simply a matter of time till Apple gets comfortable and confident to switch to ARM entirely. Quite obviously there are Mac systems inside Apple that run on ARM.

    And people are already holding in their hands the first ARM based Mac. For the iPad Pro, it is just a software upgrade that adds a few extra OS components from Mac OS into iOS to make iOS into a full Mac. These software upgrades will come over time.
    Very interesting and informative post. In many way, echoes this post here:

    http://loumiranda.com/2015/12/17/10-clues-to-the-future-of-universal-apps-and-the-apple-app-store/
  • Reply 16 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,980member
    larrya said:
    I would never have gotten a Mac without the safety blanket of Windows compatibility.  While it's true that I have largely outgrown that need, I still need to be able to do updates to MS Project files and, very rarely, MS Access files; and for these tasks, I run Parallels. 

    No number of movie editing apps or drawing apps., and no level of iPad or iPhone continuity capabilities, no matter how awesome, will change this for me. If I have to do even one update to a stupid Access database, no matter how trivial, and I cannot, I have the wrong tool. 

    No Intel compatibility (with acceptable performance), no more Macs.  I doubt I am alone. 
    Has it ever occurred to you that if / when Apple introduces ARM-based Macs, that the Intel-based Macs will stick around for those that need it? Why do people assume that Apple will all of sudden stop selling Intel-Macs?
    Appreciated your link to loumiranda; his take was very thoughtful.

    I received my iPad Pro yesterday, and it is easy to extrapolate that iOS will grow into the space that is currently occupied by some Mac's, but I don't see Apple deprecating all x86 hardware for the foreseeable future; there just isn't any necessity for that. At the same time, incentivizing the creation of iOS Apps by providing the tools to repurpose/reuse Mac App code and functionality with minimum developer effort would seem to be something that Schiller would want to accelerate. The few notable usability issues that iOS has against OS X could be remedied with a few added API's, and some hardware evolution (a trackpad on the Smart Keyboard, pointer support like a mouse), with typical Apple caution impeding the implementation of these features in the short term.

    I find that Adobe's success with the Cloud and subscriptions, will likely drive other software developers to move on from Mac OS X and Windows OS, all of which will ultimately benefit iOS with more desktop class applications. I'm confidant that Apple has a roadmap to develop ARM to fill most of spaces currently occupied by x86, but that could be the bulk of what constitutes Mac OS X hardware even in 5 years.

    Overall, It's likely that Apple will have much more success with it's strategy for iOS than MS will have pushing Windows 10 to mobile.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    ksecksec Posts: 1,567member
    macarena said:
    When people consider Apple using its A-series Silicon in Mac Lines, they forget a few critical points.

    - There are some very major reasons why Apple came out with Metal - and how Apple has a huge advantage in how A series processors use the same contiguous memory for both CPU and GPU - which means there is no need to transfer blocks from RAM to VRAM and vice versa to do computation on the GPU. The modification on PowerVR is already so huge, that this no longer is anywhere close to PowerVR. They are just retaining some basic compatibility at the interface layer to allow easy upgrades. And in couple of versions, even that will be dropped.

    Not true

    - In terms of software, Apple is well positioned. Its entire development stack is on XCode, and XCode has moved entirely to CLANG based compilation nearly 3 years back. Plus Swift is taking off big time as the way to code for Apple, and that is entirely CLANG based from the ground up. After the introduction of ARC, most of the legacy code in Apple has been converted to modern code to take advantage of ARC 3 years back - all this is CLANG based. Plus any software that is running on Intel processors is just 10 years old - so this is not that big a problem for Apple. In any case, the serious growth in Apple adoption in enterprise has happened only in the last 5 years - so Apple doesnt have nearly as big a problem with legacy code as people may think.

    - Apple has a ready Universal Binary format that can support ARM and Intel based code for transition purposes - and this can be generated from both Intel and ARM based Mac's because of CLANG.

    Please stop using CLANG when it should be LLVM.


    Very interesting and informative post. In many way, echoes this post here:

    http://loumiranda.com/2015/12/17/10-clues-to-the-future-of-universal-apps-and-the-apple-app-store/


    You can't compile bitcode to x86. End of Story. Yes there are increasingly a lot of similar API shared between OSX and iOS. But compared to the whole system that is less then 20% similarity.

    Will there be ARM Mac? Yes sure, but god knows when.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,695member
    wizard69 said:
    There is one option that very well could already be in the works, that would be a custom x86 chip made in collaboration with AMD or Intel.
    If they are going to do that with AMD they should do it soon, before they go out of business. Or maybe that is the plan, partner up and then take over the company.
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