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Google brings on former Apple chip designer

It may seem like an insignificant move, but this is a move that signifies Google's intentions to make its own chips, whether they're for smartphones or other products.

Published onDecember 25, 2017

Google‘s shift from its Nexus line to its current Pixel line was a big shift for the company. However, bigger changes could be in store for the search giant, as Manu Gulati, who worked as a micro-architect at Apple and was instrumental in the company’s chip development, announced his move to Google.

As Variety reported, Gulati announced the move on his LinkedIn profile, though it likely won’t be the last such announcement — The Verge observed that Google has several open job postings that deal with chip development. When reached for comment, mum was the word for Google and Apple, though Gulati’s move is one that is a big one.

After all, Gulati was a key part of Apple’s efforts to build custom chipsets for its iPhones and iPads. The company started using its custom chips in 2010 for the original iPad and iPhone 4, both of which were powered by the A4. Since then, Apple’s custom chips have made their way inside of the Apple Watch, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and even the diminutive AirPods.

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By comparison, whether it was a Nexus or Pixel device, Google has relied on Qualcomm for its chip needs. It makes sense, seeing how Qualcomm has been the go-to chip company for Android manufacturers for quite some time. If Google wants its Pixel smartphones to compete with the iPhone, however, it will have to also compete at the chipset level.

Of course, there are other benefits to designing your own chips. Phones have gone from devices used to text and browse the web to more performance-heavy tasks, such as virtual and augmented reality. Also, machine learning shifts the responsibility from the cloud to the device, so in that sense, you would want to have as much control over the design of the chip as possible.

Then again, it’s not as if Google hasn’t dabbled on making its own chips — the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature the Pixel Visual Core, an image processor that went live with the Android 8.1 Oreo update.

As for the hire itself, it looks to be a smart one. Gulati worked at AMD for almost 10 years before working for Broadcom for another nine years and change. From there, he worked for Apple for almost eight years, which gives Gulati over 27 years of experience in the industry.