Meet the exec behind Apple’s game-changing A-series chips

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Johny Srouji, Apple's new senior VP for hardware technologies.
Photo: Apple

Johny Srouji isn’t one of the best-known Apple executives, but a new feature profile by Bloomberg makes a case that he is one of the most important: being the senior VP for hardware technologies in charge of Apple’s A-series chips.

Srouji was promoted to the role back in December, and the new article (which features an exclusive interview with him) fills in some of the details about one of Apple’s lesser-known leaders — as well as revealing some of the challenges he faces with Apple’s internal components.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Srouji describes Apple’s chip engineers as “artists” and says his reality distortion field-style rule of thumb is that, if something is “not gated by physics, that means it’s hard but doable.”

As well as a bit of background on Srouji, who joined Apple in 2008, the piece also offers a rare glimpse inside the Apple lab where future chip designs are tested:

“The building is eerily quiet and still, save for the hum of air conditioners and the blinking red and green lights of large dark boxes that are stacked together and resemble Zambonis. The room is Apple-white and clean, but not tidy; thick wires and large plugs lie around.

Old, unused Macs are lined up on a shelf like books that have already been read. All the equipment is operated remotely. The boxes are running software that scans for possible flaws in the chip architecture.

Testing proceeds for several days on one element of the chip, then moves on to the next, and then the next, until the process is done, which can take months. ‘We beat the silicon as much as we can,’ Srouji says. ‘If you’re lucky and rigorous, you find the mistakes before you ship.’

In an adjacent room, circuit boards are wired together in milk carton-size stacks to simulate the capabilities of a future iPhone or iPad. Apple’s software programmers, sitting anywhere in the world, can remotely test how their code holds up against a future chip design.”

There are some other interesting details in the story, including some about the production problems Apple faced with the iPad Pro (apparently it was originally set to launch in Spring last year, only to be delayed due to problems with hardware, software and the Apple Pencil accessory).

In all, it’s well worth reading if you want to get a better sense of one of Cupertino’s more mysterious (but crucial) execs.

Source: Bloomberg