Brad Stone, Adam Satariano, and Gwen Ackerman for Bloomberg:
He also stepped into the kind of spotlight he’s avoided since joining Apple in 2008. Srouji runs what is probably the most important and least understood division inside the world’s most profitable company. Since 2010, when his team produced the A4 chip for the original iPad, Apple has immersed itself in the costly and complex science of silicon. It develops specialized microprocessors as a way to distinguish its products from the competition. The Apple-designed circuits allow the company to customize products to perfectly match the features of its software, while tightly controlling the critical trade-off between speed and battery consumption. Among the components on its chip (technically called a “system on a chip,” or SOC) are an image signal processor and a storage controller, which let Apple tailor useful functions for taking and storing photos, such as the rapid-fire “burst mode” introduced with the iPhone 5s. Engineers and designers can work on features like that years in advance without prematurely notifying vendors—especially Samsung, which manufactures many of Apple’s chips.
At the center of all this is Srouji, 51, an Israeli who joined Apple after jobs at Intel and IBM. He’s compact, he’s intense, and he speaks Arabic, Hebrew, and French. His English is lightly accented and, when the subject has anything to do with Apple, nonspecific bordering on koanlike. “Hard is good. Easy is a waste of time,” he says when asked about increasingly thin iPhone designs. “The chip architects at Apple are artists, the engineers are wizards,” he answers another question. He’ll elaborate a bit when the topic is general. “When designers say, ‘This is hard,’ ” he says, “my rule of thumb is if it’s not gated by physics, that means it’s hard but doable.”
The A-series chips are probably Apple’s most important components (or products, depending on how you look at them), without which the iPhone and iPad wouldn’t be what they are today.