Apple’s presence in Israel growing to expand in-house chip design capabilities

Apple A8 (mockup 001)

Apple’s focus on designing iPhone and iPad processors in-house is reportedly expanding with news that CEO Tim Cook’s visit to Israel this week is linked to efforts to increase its own chip design prowess, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Cook earlier in the week met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and is expected to meet with former President Shimon Peres later this week. The newspaper added that Apple’ hired most of the Israeli employees of a chip-design division that Texas Instruments shut down in 2013 in Ra’anana, some 10 miles north of Tel-Aviv.

Cook was touring Apple’s new research-and-development offices north of Tel Aviv, its second-largest research and development center outside of the United States.

“We’ve hired our first individual in Israel in 2011 and we now have over 700 people working in Israel directly for us,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in the meeting with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday.

iPhone 6 processor performance

“Israel and Apple have gotten much closer together over the last three years than ever before, and we see that as just the beginning,” he added.

The company also has offices in the town of Herzlyia.

The report makes a brief mention of Israeli Arab Johny Srouji (pictured below), Apple’s Vice President of Hardware Technologies, as leading Apple’s semiconductor expansion in the country.

His profile on Apple’s website mentions him as leading “all custom silicon architecture and development, covering a wide range of devices and technologies.”

Johny Srouji headshot 001

After joining Apple back in 2008, Srouji lead development of Apple’s first custom system-on-a-chip processor, the A4 chip which powered the original iPad and the iPhone 4.

He’s now in charge of Apple’s efforts related to mobile processors, storage controllers, touch and sensors, display silicon, connectivity and other chipsets.

Prior to Apple, he held senior positions at Intel and IBM in the area of processor development and design. Srouji earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Computer Science from Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology.

The Cupertino firm in recent years bought two Israeli startups: a flash memory firm Anobit in December 2011 and PrimeSense in November 2013, which specializes in 3D sensor technology that was used in the original Microsoft Kinect sensor.

“Apple’s Israeli acquisitions and its expanding local workforce show that the company is becoming more and more independent on the chip level, where it once had to rely on external suppliers,” said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israeli Semiconductor Club.

iPhone 5 teardown (iFixit, A6 chip)

In addition to designing the engine that powers iPhones and iPads in-house, Apple is said to be secretly researching on a desktop-class that could possibly replace Intel chips in Mac notebooks.

This was first reported by Bloomberg in November 2012 and reiterated recently by revered KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Source: The Wall Street Journal