In a sign that Alphabet Inc. (GOOGsubsidiary Google is becoming serious about its smartphone business, the company has hired away Manu Gulati, a veteran custom chip engineer, from Apple Inc. (AAPL). Gulati now works as the lead System on Chip (SoC) architect for Google, according to his LinkedIn profile. He previously worked for eight years at Apple, where he is reported to have led the company's efforts to develop a custom chip for its devices. Trade publication Variety first reported this development. The publication also referenced a spate of job ads on Google's site for roles such as "Mobile SoC Architect."

Google's Pixel phones, which were released last year, are equipped with Snapdragon 821 processors made by Qualcomm Incorporated (QCOM). However, the Mountain View, California-based company has developed its own chip for its cloud division and was previously reported to be at work on its own chips for mobile phones. Gulati's hiring could accelerate Google's efforts to develop a chip that is faster and efficiently processes new technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality. (See also: Google's Machine Learning Chips Beat Intel and Nvidia.)

Apple has a head start in this area. The company began developing its own chips back in 2009. However, the A-series processors, which are used in Apple's mobile devices, lack a baseband modem. There have been reports that Apple is at work developing a System on Chip that combines multiple features of a circuit, such as power consumption and speed, onto a single chip. In recent times, Apple has broadened its supplier base for processors to handle different wireless standards and broadband speeds as it taps new markets. The Cupertino, California-based company recently poached a well known Qualcomm expert to power its efforts to develop an SoC in house. (See also: Did Apple Poach a Qualcomm Engineer to Develop Chips In House?)


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