AMD grabs ex-Apple and Qualcomm mobile chip specialists

Chris Davies - Jan 22, 2013, 7:17am CST
AMD grabs ex-Apple and Qualcomm mobile chip specialists

AMD has snatched two mobile processor specialists from Qualcomm and Apple, bolstering its footprint in low-power chip design as it attempts to expand from the desktop and notebook markets. Wayne Mertsky, formerly of Apple’s A-series chip division, and Charles Matar, previously one of Qualcomm’s embedded chip experts, have joined AMD’s ranks, the company confirmed to Reuters, but exactly what they’ll do at their new employer is still the stuff of speculation.

According to insiders familiar with the new roles, Meretsky will lead AMD’s software development efforts, customizing code to work more efficiently with the firm’s silicon. That’s not a new area for AMD; back at the launch of the Trinity chip series for notebooks, ultraportables, and tablets, AMD highlighted the collaborative work it had done with software companies, fettling their code to squeeze the best out of its APUs.

As for Matar, he will supposedly take up a role as VP of System-on-Chip Development, a clear indication of AMD’s ambitions for the mobile market. SoCs pull together the processor, as well as memory, other components, and sometimes radios, into a single, compact package, making them ideal for the space-short confines of smartphones and tablets.

Interestingly, joining AMD is a return of sorts for both execs, with each having worked at the company earlier in their respective careers. Meretsky will also find at least one familiar face waiting for him; AMD snatched up Apple chip architect Jim Keller midway through 2012.

Exactly how much work AMD needs to do if it wishes to be as competitive as, say, Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung, and others in the mobile chipset market is unclear. The company announced a range of new APUs – Kabini, Kaveri, Richland, and Temash – at CES earlier this month, but is yet to publicly detail a roadmap for SoCs.

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