Google is getting more serious about its ambitions to design custom silicon in-house, as a spree in acquiring key engineers in the field, some of them poached from rival Apple proves. A new report from The Information suggests the company is amping up its efforts in this regard, having hired now-former Apple engineer John Bruno to aid in this endeavour.
Bruno, who previously worked at graphics powerhouse ATI and then became chief engineer at AMD, headed up Apple's silicon competitive analysis group. His leadership of the team has been credited as the reason for the iPhone and iPad's comparative advantage in processing power compared to rivals.
The details of his new role at Google aren't entirely clear at the moment, with his LinkedIn page simply reporting him as a 'System Architect'. Recent moves by Google do indicate that the company is looking to create custom hardware for its line of first-party hardware, such as the Pixel 2 phones which contain a custom Visual Core imaging chip. The chip was the first to have been designed in-house by Google and is a significant contributor to the Pixel 2's impressive photographic capabilities.
It's certainly possible that Google is looking to double down on custom chips that provide its first-party hardware an advantage in niche areas, though given Bruno's background, designing a proper SoC for future Pixel phones is also not out of the question.
The Pixel line of phones have always been lauded for their sublime software offerings and the ability to produce its silicon in-house could allow Google to more closely mimic Apple's business model. Designing a chip from scratch does take a while, though, so it may be some time before we see the results of Bruno's work in a phone, though The Information suggests a mobile chip designed by Google could come sooner rather than later if the company decides to use intellectual property from ARM.