Google Hires Apple's Mobile Chip System Architect John Bruno

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Google hired Apple’s chip system architect John Bruno as part of a broader effort to intensify its hardware efforts and become less reliant on third-party chip manufacturers, The Information reported on Thursday. Mr. Bruno moved to the Alphabet-owned company in order to take on the same role, being responsible for designing chipsets that are likely to power future generations of Pixel-series smartphones. His new position is already reflected on LinkedIn but Google has yet to announce the hire in an official capacity. Mr. Bruno is an industry veteran who spent more than half a decade at Apple, working on chips as old as the Apple A7 which powered the iPhone 5S. Before that, he spent three and a half years as a system architect at AMD, having first been elevated to that role after five years spent as a senior ASIC design manager at the Sunnyvale, California-based tech giant.

Mr. Bruno is the latest in the series of Google’s hires from Apple and other semiconductor juggernauts like Qualcomm, with his defection being yet another hint at the Internet company’s growing ambitions in the chipmaking space. Google already delivered its first commercial custom-built system-on-chip this year, having equipped the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL flagships with the Pixel Visual Core. The company’s chip expertise is still understood to be limited and requires it to collaborate with other firms in order to partially realize its hardware ambitions like it did with the Pixel Visual Core which was designed in partnership with Intel. Google has been making efforts to change that state of affairs and is likely planning to move away from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon-series silicon in the long term.

A source cited by The Information claims Mr. Bruno was the creator and chief of Apple’s semiconductor industry analysis division seeking to strengthen the Cupertino-based firm’s lead in the segment. With over two decades of experience and vast knowledge related to high-end silicon, he’s likely to majorly contribute to Google’s chip endeavors. The Pixel 3 series of Android smartphones is still likely to utilize one of Qualcomm’s chips — either the Snapdragon 845 or a minor revision of the thereof — but moving beyond 2018, Google may be able to start transitioning to in-house silicon with its consumer electronics.