AMD announced Wednesday that it had hired Jim Keller, formerly of Apple’s platform architecture group, to serve as corporate vice president and chief architect of AMD’s microprocessor cores.
“Jim is one of the most widely respected and sought-after innovators in the industry and a very strong addition to our engineering team,” said Mark Papermaster, CTO of AMD, in a press release. “He has contributed to processing innovations that have delivered tremendous compute advances for millions of people all over the world, and we expect that his innovative spirit, low-power design expertise, creativity and drive for success will help us shape our future and fuel our growth.”
Mr. Keller has a storied history within the microprocessor world whose experience dates back to Digital Equipment’s production of the Alpha processor. In 2005-2006 he worked with AMD’s chip design team on the Athlon 64 and Opteron 64 processor line. He joined Apple in 2008 when it acquired PA Semi — a startup focusing on producing low power chips — where he was vice president of design.
At Apple, Mr. Keller worked extensively on the ARM-Cortex A5 chip — the ARM-licensed Samsung-built processor that powers the iPad 2.
For AMD, the recruitment of Mr. Keller is a nice change of pace as the company has been hemorrhaging personnel for the last year — a trend that started with Dirk Meyer being turfed as CEO in 2011 and continued through the year into 2012.
Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights and AMD VP who was laid off in November 2011, said to AllThingsD that “Jim looks like a good pickup for AMD, undoubtedly he will be focused on architecting the lowest power cores at a given performance level. Additionally, Keller knows the mobile SOC [system-on-a-chip] game better than most anyone in the industry which will help AMD as those design principles need to come to PC processors.”
Considering the ARM-AMD security partnership that was announced in June at AMD’s Fusion Developer Summit, the recruitment of Mr. Keller likely shows that AMD is further committing to ARM. Likely one of Mr. Keller’s first projects will be the development of hybrid x86/ARM/GPU processors, that are speculated to arrive during the 2014-2016 time frame.
Before that, AMD’s first challenge will the launch and integration of its tablet/mobile centered ultra low power 40nm Hondo APUs slated for Q4 of this year. If done successfully, AMD could make serious inroads into the Windows 8 tablet market.
AMD’s stock price is unchanged by the news, currently sitting at $4.06 as of late-day trading.