Apple’s continuing quest to develop in-house microprocessor design capabilities hit a roadblock today, when IBM filed suit seeking to block one of its chief design architects from joining the Apple team.
Mark Papermaster, IBM’s former vice president of microprocessor technology development, had hoped to join the company in November to begin working closely with Steve Jobs and other Apple executives shaping the development of proprietary processors for servers and handheld devices.
In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, IBM attorneys described Papermaster as “IBM’s top expert in Power architecture and technology.” He most recently managed IBM’s blade server division and is also the author of several papers on chip development at IBM. The New York computer giant used to make PowerPC processors for Apple before the company switched to Intel’s processors in 2005.
CNet writer Tom Krazit penned a wide ranging article discussing the various possibilities Papermaster’s move to Apple could signal, from increased focus on ambitions in the enterprise market and cloud computing services, to continuing development of mobile platform processors begun with the company’s purchase of PA Semi earlier in the year.
In the end, he suggests “Papermaster’s hire might wind up as a partial solution to all those questions over what Apple should do with its pile of cash: give a chunk of it to IBM to make this case go away.”.