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Monday, April 27, 2009, 03:35 pm PT (06:35 pm ET)

Apple hires influential ATI graphics chip designer

Apple has scooped up a chip designer who spent years mapping out key graphics chip architectures at ATI and who also played an integral role in the development of the graphics processor found at the heart of Nintendo's Game Cube console.

The LinkedIn profile of Bob Drebin indicates the former AMD graphics chief recently accepted a Senior Director position at Apple following a one-year void in his professional career. Although his precise role at the electronics maker is unknown, Drebin is likely to deliver knowledge and experience central to the company's Mac and iPhone strategy.

Prior to joining Apple, Drebin was chief technology officer of the Graphics Products Group within AMD , where he oversaw the technical strategy and direction for the chipmaker's graphics-related businesses. He assumed the role in 2006, following AMD's acquisition of ATI, where he was also a director of chip design and strategy.

Earlier in his career, Drebin managed the architecture and design unit of ArtX, which was instrumental in development of the graphics component for the Nintendo Game Cube. He also spent nine years developing high-performance graphics systems for Silicon Graphic.

The LinkedIn professional network site has been an increasing source of Apple hires and departures in recent months. Last fall, an update to the profile of P.A. Semi's senior principle architect Wei-han Lien revealed he had assumed the role of "Senior Manager Chip CPU Architect at Apple" following the company's acquisition of P.A. Semi.

More significant, however, was Lien's further disclosure on his profile page that he was in charge of a team developing an ARM processor that would power the next-generation iPhone, all but confirming the company was moving quickly on plans to distance itself from rival handset makers by developing its own embedded chip solutions.

Earlier this month, LinkedIn was also the source of reports that Research in Motion had hired one-time Apple interface designer Don Lindsay to head up a new a new team of designers tasked with improving the user experience of the company's BlackBerry handsets.