Apple Snags Former ATI CTO

From Tom's Hardware: Reports are coming in that AMD/ATI CTO and graphics chip designer Bob Drebin has recently taken a Senior Director position with Apple. Electronista discovered the new position through Drebin's altered LinkedIn profile, which now lists his current employer as the company behind the iPhone and MacBook laptops.

Drebin may have to get used to his new digs, but he is by no means out of place in Silicon Valley. After graduating from Brown University in 1984, Drebin worked for Lucasfilm and Pixar in programming and R&D. After leaving Pixar in 1989, Drebin worked for several big name companies in Silicon Valley, including Silicon Graphics, ArtX and ATI. After ATI was absorbed by AMD several years ago, Drebin was named Chief Technology Officer, where his duties included graphics chipset design.

So far, nothing is concrete about Drebin's position with Apple, although it is naturally assumed his Senior Director title will be associated with graphics. Apple currently uses both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards in its laptops and desktops, and the company has shown no indicators that it would switch from this formula, especially after the love it's given to Nvidia and their 9400M and 9600M graphics solutions.

For now, it looks like Drebin may be working on a new processor for the iPhone, or perhaps with the PA Semiconductor team (now part of Apple), that is supposedly working on the next iPhone CPU. This next CPU could be the muscle behind both the computing and graphics power for the next-gen Apple smartphone. OpenCL, the Apple-approved specification that allows GPUs and multi-core CPus to handle tasks like physics and video rendering, is being released later this year. An iPhone with an OpenCL-equipped processor could use the same chip for both graphics and general computing, and Drebin's graphics expertise will come in handy if that's the case. If the next iPhone does use some sort of "system on a chip" configuration, it will definitely give Nvidia and their Tegra platform a run for its money in the smartphone arena.

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