Great Interview with Apple's SVP Hardware Technologies covers the Bionic A11 Chip, PrimeSense's Face ID and much more
In February 2016 Patently Apple posted a report titled "One of Apple's Top Secret Chip Executives is Revealed in a Fascinating new Interview." In the first interview we learned about Apple's SVP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji who resides in both Israel and Cupertino. He's an advanced engineer that previously worked at IBM and Intel. The division he run is responsible for making processor chips, the silicon brains inside the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. His first projects were the original iPad and the iPhone 4.
Today in an exclusive interview with the Israeli Calcalist, Srouji discussed Apple's ascent up the supply chain ladder, and the fine balance between what the company plans to buy from vendors and what it plans to develop in-house in the future.
In recent years, Apple has been getting more ambitious when it comes to in-house chip design. Mr. Scrouji discussed Apple's way of balancing between in-house development and partnerships with vendors, and the advantage it has over chip companies.
As Srouji sees it, "There is a fine balance between 'you want to do everything,' and 'you want to make sure that everything that you deliver into the product is as good as it gets. Apple is about focus. We focus on the things where we're going to just double-down and deliver."
Srouji told the Calcalist that Apple works very tightly with vendors to make sure that whatever they deliver is made according to Apple's specifications. Going forward, Apple will "still partner with vendors" in some cases and in others it will develop things internally. "We are doing more and more, and we think carefully about what we want to do versus buy."
Teams led by Mr. Srouji start designing the chips years ahead of the market release date for the devices they will be powering. This timeframe requires placing bets on the next domains the company believes will matter most to users. Apple, he said, has an advantage over chip designers when making such bets.
"Silicon is unforgiving," Mr. Srouji said. "My team is already working on the chips you're going to see in 2020. You make bets. We have the system and the software.
We have better knowledge versus external chipmakers about where things are going to end up. Since we own the silicon, we own the software, the operating system and everything else, we deliver, always. We deliver for the exact specification of iOS and nothing else. We don't have to worry about other operating systems."
Mr. Srouji touted the performance of the A11-Bionic, a chip first introduced in the company's iPhone 8, as a testimony to the company's chip-design capabilities.
"It is just amazing. I'm not bragging. If you look at the CPU, graphics—It's fast, it's smart and it's power efficient – customized for Apple," Srouji said.
In 2013, Apple acquired PrimeSense, an Israeli company developing hardware for 3D sensing, and many industry observers speculated about the Apple reasoning for the investment. Mr. Srouji said the team from PrimeSense was involved in the development of Face ID as well as other new features for Apple devices."
In September Patently Apple posted a report on Face ID and PrimeSense titled "Apple's Face ID has been in the work for many Years and its Debut fulfills many In-Depth Camera Patents."
For more on this interesting interview, read the full Calcalist report here.
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