LONDON – Apple has hired a veteran technologist to help it set up an R&D center in Israel, its first R&D center outside California, according to a Globes report that references "sources."
The move is additional to – but may be complementary to – Apple's reported intention to acquire Anobit Technologies Ltd. (Herzliya, Israel), a developer of memory controller ICs that it is claimed can enhance the endurance of NAND flash memory.
It also appears to be in line with an Apple policy of taking more control of its technology base. The company has made purchases of P.A. Semi in 2008 and Intrinsity Inc. in 2010 to help with its IC design capability. Apple taking a stake, or 100 percent, of Anobit fits that strategy.
Apple has recruited Aharon Aharon to lead the Israel development center, the report said. Aharon is currently chairman of Camero Technology Ltd. (Kfar Netter, Israel), a developer of through-the-wall radar imaging technology, having previously been CEO there for six years. He was also previously chairman of Discretix Technologies Ltd. (Kfar Netter, Israel) and prior to that was with Zoran Corp. rising to the position of COO. Aharon spent 13 years from 1983 to 1996 as a researcher and then senior manager at IBM's Haifa research laboratory.
It was not stated what the location or focus of the Israel R&D center will be. Aharon will spend several months in Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, before returning to Israel to begin recruiting staff, the report said. This will happen regardless of whether Apple acquires Anobit or not, the report added.
The move is significant because, at present, Apple does no strategic development outside its California headquarters, and the planned Israel center will be Apple's first offshore research.
Strategic move on behalf of Apple to acquire SSD controller know how. Effectively Apple is one of the top consumers of NAND devices, so it might make sense for them to go lower into the echo system of SSD, and start building their own Hard Drives for their Netbooks, Laptops, etc..
This has 3 key advantages for Apple:
1. Reduce the number of suppliers with respect to sourcing SSD and NAND based storage, effectively buy cutting out the middle man between NAND devices and SSD drives.
2. Lower overall cost to make SSD and stronger negotiation power with NAND Flash device manufacturers like Samsung and Toshiba. Gives them more leverage.
3. Develop their own SSD controller rather than have to depend on SanForce(LSI) or other controller companies and drive out the cost further from the equation. That would also lower their Risk with respect to MTBF (mean time between failure) and ECC errors. They will have better control of it using the Israeli company ECC and wear-levelling algorithms instead of depending on Joe-Shmo SSD controller to do that job.
Good Job Apple, well calculated step.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.