Apple Continues Internal CPU Development Focus With New Acquisition

Credit: Henriok/WikimediaCredit: Henriok/WikimediaApple will purchase some of the assets and IP of Dialog Semiconductor, a European chip manufacturing company, in a deal worth $600 million in total. Through this deal, Apple hopes to better control the efficiency of its mobile chips, such as the recently announced Bionic A12 CPU.

Dialog announced today that 300 people, or 16 percent of its workforce, will be joining Apple. The new employees will come from Livorno, Italy, Swindon, England and Nabern and Neuaubing, Germany. The Germany locations are near Munich, where Apple already has its own offices. The Dialog employees that Apple is getting will report to Apple’s SVP of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji.

Dialog also noted that the remaining part of its business will focus more on IoT, mobile, automotive, computing and storage markets, as a provider of custom and configurable mixed-signal integrated circuit chips.

Apple’s Increasing Focus on In-House Chip Development

Apple has a reputation for wanting to develop as much of its own hardware as possible. Over the past few years, the company has become increasingly more aggressive with its mobile chips, which have gotten dangerously close in single-thread performance to Intel’s chips. There have also been rumors for several years that Apple would like to use these powerful mobile chips in its laptop line too, but so far that’s still just a rumor.

Last year, Apple also announced plans to build its own GPU technology and no longer purchase it from Imagination Technologies. This was another major step towards Apple controlling the mobile SoC more completely, and, therefore, its performance and energy efficiency. Apple has already shown impressive progress on the performance of its mobile chips over the past few years, and it seems the company would now like to focus more on optimizing the energy efficiency of the chip too. 

Dialog Chief Executive Jalal Bagherli told Reuters that Apple viewed the main power management integrated circuit (PMIC) of its SoC as a strategic component that it wanted to control directly. If Apple was willing to pay a few hundred million dollars for a PMIC business, it's possible it has some big ideas on how to improve the efficiency of its future mobile chips that it didn’t want to share with a third-party supplier.

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  • mihen
    O.O wants to make their own GPU. Intel has trouble doing that without licensing patents from either nVidia or AMD. This might not bode well for Apple as they come on the receiving end of patent lawsuits they so love to give out to previous partners.
  • sykozis
    Apple is nowhere near the single-thread performance of Intel chips. ARM benchmark results and x86 benchmark results are not directly comparable. It's like comparing Apples to Bananas. Apple's CPUs, running x86 instructions, would be considerably slower in both single-threaded and multi-threaded operations compared to Intel chips.
  • Tuishimi
    Running x86 instructions? The idea of RISC is you would not have all the complex instructions. That would require additional instructions to accomplish some of the same things. On the other hand RISC CPUs are designed to handle more instructions more rapidly. The assembly language would have to be different, or run through a conversion of some sort, I should think. But it has been ... I feel old ... 20+ years since I worked in OS development (and on alternative hardware, not Intel-based). So maybe I am completely wrong.