After seeing demos of Nvidia’s Tegra system-on-a-chip, one could easily assume that Steve Jobs and Jen-Hsun Huang are already talking about sticking the SoCs in next-generation iPhones. However, things may turn out quite differently.
The New York Times reports that Apple has decided to bring iPhone CPU development in-house. How do they know? Simple: Wei-han Lien, Apple’s newly minted Senior Manager of CPU Development, spilled the beans on his position in his LinkedIn profile. Lien says he’s been managing the “ARM CPU architecture team for IPhone (sic)” since April 2008. The revelation isn’t an entirely surprising one, since Apple purchased Lien’s previous employer—PA Semiconductor—back in April for around $300 million in cash. Lien’s profile does confirm Apple’s intention to get its hands dirty with iPhone CPU development, however.
Quoting industry sources and analysts, the Times wagers that Apple could “[build] support for functions such as the touch screen or scroll wheel into silicon and possibly [cutting] costs by reducing the number of processors needed.” Former AMD CTO Fred Weber also speculates that Apple could build a graphics engine into its CPUs. On the flip side, freeing itself from third-party ARM chip makers could lead Apple to delays—and it might not have the leisure of switching suppliers in such an event.