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Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 09:40 am PT (12:40 pm ET)

Apple reportedly adding more graphics chip experts to team

Apple isn't done building its arsenal of chip designers, according to a new report, which claims the company will acquire the services of yet another expert who's enjoyed a long and successful tenure with the ATI/AMD camp.

Citing sources close to Apple, the Inquirer is reporting that one of AMD's chief technology officers, Raja Koduri, will follow in the footsteps of colleague Bob Drebin, who's since joined the iPhone maker. The publication characterizes the chip expert as a visionary, stating that "anything he puts his mind to is going to be interesting, count on that."

Koduri began his professional career at S3 Graphics, where he spent four years as a director and engineering manager. In 2001, he made his way to ATI as Director of Advanced Technology Development and emerged as one of the leading designers of discrete graphics processors. With AMD's purchase of ATI in 2006, he assumed the title of chief technology officer of the firm's Graphics Product Group.

Word of Koduri's plans to join Apple comes just days after Drebin was reported to have accepted a Senior Director position at the Cupertino-based electronics maker. Like Koduri, he also once held the title of CTO of AMD's Graphics Product Group before departing a year ago to pursue unknown or personal interests.

Precisely where Koduri and Drebin fit into Apple's strategy remains unclear, though their vast knowledge of discrete graphics and chips for video game consoles are likely to play key roles in shaping the future of the company's Mac and iPhone product families.

Apple has been building a brigade of expert chip designers for more than a year now, spearheaded by its acquisition of the 150-person fabless chip design firm P.A. Semi for $278 million last April.

As AppleInsider has pointed out in several reports since then, it's widely believed that Apple is structuring a team capable of crafting a family of proprietary system-on-a-chip (SOC) designs that will provide the company with a sizable advantage over the broader market because, unlike the SoCs found in the existing iPhone and iPod touch, the new designs won't be accessible to competitors.

Mark Papermaster, the executive Apple poached from IBM last year to succeed Tony Fadell in leading the company's iPod and iPhone engineering teams, is also an chip specialist. Following a widely publicized court battle over the matter, Papermaster was ultimately cleared to assume his new role at Apple. He began last week.