updated 08:30 pm EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
Florida-based Design Center quietly building, recruiting
At least a dozen former AMD graphics specialists have changed their online profiles to reflect that they are now working for Apple at the Orlando Design Center in Florida, suggesting that work on graphics acceleration on Apple's Ax processor line is being quietly built up, and may reflect an overall increased interest by Apple to take more aspects of the processor in-house. Despite the addition of at least 12 engineers since the start of the year, Apple is still advertising for jobs with the Orlando center, as well as similar jobs in Cupertino.
Apple has previously had listings for a "GPU Csim/Reference Model Engineer" and design verification experts, and is clearly looking to the Orlando group to assist with ongoing improvements to the Ax processor line. The facility is not the only Apple office in the region: following the company's acquisition of AuthenTec, a "Melbourne Design Center" was referred to in job listings, reflecting where the fingerprint-recognition tech company had been based.
Orlando has had a reputation for technology development prior to Apple's increased presence, but mostly related to simulators and related 3D work mostly done for the plethora of military contractors there. The new Apple job postings call for graphic architects and hardware engineers, along with a "Site Manager" who has more than 10 years experience in leading "high-performance GFX (or equivalent complexity) IP development teams." The mirrored job listings in Cupertino suggest that Apple intends for the teams to work together to rapidly advance chip and GPU design for future products.
Apple first debuted its own self-designed chip, the A4, in 2010. The original A4 and A5 used off-the-shelf ARM "system on a chip" (SoC) parts as a template and then customized the design to fine-tune it for iOS devices. The A6 found in the iPhone 5 is the first Ax chip to feature an original CPU core from Apple.