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AMD poaches Keller from Apple's mobile chip team

A call to ARMs?

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Jim Keller, formerly director of the platform architecture group at Apple, has become the newest recruit to AMD as part of CEO Rory Read's recent talent buying spree.

Keller has worked for AMD before, helping to develop its 64-bit Athlon and Opteron designs. He also coauthored the x86-64 processor instruction set, as well as working on several DEC Alpha designs. But for the last few years he's been concentrating on lower-power systems, first as a founding member of PA Semi and lately in his role at Apple.

Keller is joining as chief architect of AMD's microprocessor cores and will be working under Mark Papermaster, the former Apple hardware boss who left Cupertino after a brief sojourn in the wake of the iPhone 4 "antennagate" issues.

"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 Papermaster in a canned statement.

"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."

No doubt AMD is going to be looking to Keller's ARM experience as part of its plans for more hybrid chip architectures. AMD has already said it wants to fuse a Cortex-A5 chip onto future Fusion and Opteron builds for its TrustZone security system, and Keller will have a lot to offer on that topic.

But his experience with Apple could also be useful if, as some expect, AMD wants to do more with ARM systems at the low end. Intel is not having a lot of luck in the smartphone sector with its Atom line and AMD could be planning some new designs to nibble at a market Chipzilla wants badly.

Keller is the latest in a long line of hiring and firings instituted by Rory Read as he reorganizes, kicking out a lot of the old guard in favor of fresh meat. In July he snaffled Suresh Gopalakrishnan from Extreme Networks and last December he bagged Lisa Su from Freescale Semiconductor, and there are rumors that several other people are being sounded out. ®

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