Apple’s legendary history of chip design has taken a new turn: Cupertino-based, California-based electronics giant has accused startup Rivos of stealth mode stealing its system designs on chip (SoC), including silicon for the M1 laptop and iPhone chips. A15.
Apple’s lawsuit alleges that Rivos, which has hired more than 40 former Apple employees in the past year, stole a trade secret from its own chip designs. The lawsuit specifically named two former Apple engineers as defendants in the case: Bhasi Kaitamana and Wen Shih-Chieh, known as Ricky Wen.
Kaitamana, who has worked at Apple for eight years, was a processor implementation engineer managing the design of Apple’s SoC processor before leaving the company in August 2021 to join Rivos. Wen, a processor design engineer, has been with Apple for nearly 14 years. Apple claims that Kaitamana and Wen have taken thousands of SoC design files and other confidential information from Rivos.
Rivos, as well as Kaitamana and Wen, have not yet commented on the development.
Apple also claims that other former Apple engineers committed similar acts of stealing SoC design secrets before jumping to Rivos. According to Apple, some of these engineers have used encrypted communications applications to transfer design information.
This is a critical development, as Apple claims to have invested billions of dollars in developing powerful SoCs for Mac and iPhone devices. And such lawsuits are nothing new to the company. In December 2019, Apple sued Gerard Williams III, a former CEO of the company’s chips, for the launch of the startup company Nuvia, while still working at Apple. Nuvia is developing processors for data center applications.
Now, Rivos, which has largely shunned public attention since its inception last year, is said to have stolen Apple’s work on the SoC’s design, which has lasted more than a decade. This case, among other things, is likely to bring the enigma of SoC design to the fore. And Apple’s rise in the world of chip design.