Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Report: Apple might make power management chips in house

There’s a lot of talk about an analyst report saying that Apple is looking to build power management chips for its devices in house, rather than using its current third-party supplier Dialog Semiconductor. Here’s Bloomberg’s Giles Turner citing an analyst note:

“There is strong evidence that Apple is developing its own power-management integrated circuits and intends to replace the chip made by Dialog at least in part,” Karsten Iltgen, analyst at Bankhaus Lampe, said in a research note published Tuesday. A shift to Apple developing its own chips in-house is unlikely in the short term, he said.

Normally, this might merit an eyebrow raise. Two things make it a little more significant: first, that Apple has apparently hired a bunch of engineers from Dialog.1 Second, and more interesting, last week, Imagination Technologies–which makes GPUS for iOS-based devices–announced that Apple would no longer be using its chips within the next two years. Reportedly, Apple has also hired some folks from Imagination.

Put both together and you get a pretty standard Apple maneuver: bring more components in house to give Apple complete control, allowing the company to optimize its devices in a way that most other companies can’t.

This also seems to be a tenet of Tim Cook’s Apple, which probably highly prizes this not only for design reasons, but also for operational control. The more technologies you handle yourself, the easier it probably is to maintain a supply chain, including getting the right number of components at the right price.

While power management is certainly less flashy than graphics chips, given how much Apple emphasizes power efficiency and how important battery life is to consumers, it’s no surprise that the company would want to exert as much control as possible in that arena.

  1. To which a source told Bloomberg that “it isn’t unusual to see a steady flow of employees to and from the two companies.” 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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