After leading the design of Apple’s mobile processors, which have powered the iPhone and iPad over the last few years, chip architect Jim Keller is returning to AMD to head up its microprocessor core design team, the chipmaker announced today.
Keller is an industry veteran who brought plenty of experience to Apple’s mobile processors. He was previously vice president at P.A. Semiconductor, which Apple acquired in 2008 for $278 million, and he went on to serve as a director of Apple’s platform architecture group.
Keller spearheaded the development of Apple’s custom mobile processors — including the A4 in the iPhone 4, the A5 in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, and the A5X in the new iPad — all of which have managed to keep Apple’s mobile devices on the cutting edge. His departure could be a big loss for Apple, which desperately needs smart chip designers to keep pace with the rapid evolution of mobile processors.
For AMD, Keller’s return is nothing but good news, especially after its recent disappointing quarter. He previously played a key role in the design of AMD’s Athlon 64 and Opteron 64 processors, which were among the last generation of processors where AMD was able to outclass Intel. Keller also co-authored the HyperTransport specification and x86-64 processor instruction set.
In short, he’s kind of a big deal. By taking a leadership role at AMD, Keller could potentially help the chip maker be more competitive against Intel and give AMD a leg-up when it finally decides to enter the mobile processor arena.