At least two hardware engineers from Broadcom have left the company to join forces with Apple, according to a new report. This fuels recent rumors that Apple plans to bring new baseband processors to its 2015 line of iOS devices, but could also be linked to other rumors stating that Apple plans to design the processor for its rumored upcoming wearable device dubbed the iWatch.
Former RF hardware lead at Broadcom Paul Chang is one of the engineers now known to have left the chipmaker for Apple, as evidenced by his LinkedIn profile. While at Broadcom, Chang was a lead for RF hardware and worked on baseband transceivers, some of which eventually became part of phones from both Nokia and Samsung.
Chang’s experience includes “working as the RF chip lead on complex mobile communications product development projects that generated multi-billion dollar revenue and involved hundreds of people from cross functional teams,” as well as leading product development “from the inception to delivery to customers.” Chang’s name is listed on at least 3 Broadcom patents covering topics as “integrated circuit manufacturing methods.”
Another Broadcom engineer by the name of Xiping Wang, who served at the company for more than ten years as a design engineer and hardware development manager, joined Apple recently as well. Wang, like Chang, has experience in the field of RF engineering as well, as evidenced by his participation in the field at Motorola prior to joining Broadcom.
These are just two of the more than 30 “mid- and senior-level” baseband engineers Apple has picked up from Broadcom over the past three years. But Apple is still advertising more than 50 job openings in RF chip design, meaning they’re still on the hunt for talent.
These acquisitions have popped up in the wake of rumors from Taiwan’s DigiTimes publications, claiming that Apple plans to build a Research and Development team to head the development of baseband processors for their 2015 iPhone models. Baseband chips for handsets total to being a $16-19 billion a year industry, so it would make sense for Apple to feel compelled to continue building this part of its business. Broadcom currently has a 50% share in this segment.
Secondly, this news puts fuel on iWatch rumors, with a recent report from China’s Economic Daily News claiming that Apple may plan to build the iWatch processor in-house, further evidencing reasons behind Apple’s recent mass acquisition of baseband hardware and software engineers.
It will be interesting to see what kind of security and other features new baseband technology may bring to the next iPhone. What do you think?