Apple's Mark Papermaster finally ready for work

Apple's new iPhone hardware chief has now started working for the company, just as Apple beefs up its chip design expertise with another hire.

Six months after Mark Papermaster accepted a key leadership role at Apple, he has finally started leading the group developing future iPhones and iPods.

Papermaster's first official day was Friday. His title is senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering, and he reports directly to CEO Steve Jobs. Papermaster replaced Tony Fadell as the leader of the hardware design of Apple's mobile computers, while Scott Forstall is still in charge of the software development that runs on those devices.

Apple had to fight with Papermaster's former employer, IBM, in order to get him into the fold. IBM filed suit against Papermaster for violating the terms of a noncompete agreement, but the parties settled, paving the way for Papermaster to join Apple. He was forced to wait, however, until Friday as part of that agreement, and he will also have to certify in July and October that he hasn't disclosed any IBM confidential information to Apple.

In his absence, Apple is believed to have put together plans for a mobile computing device that's larger than the iPhone, but smaller than the MacBook. A third-generation iPhone is also expected to arrive some time this summer.

Apple has also been busy staffing up its chip design group, created last year by the purchase of P.A. Semi to work on future chips for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The Inquirer reported--and an Apple representative confirmed--that Apple has hired Bob Drebin, a former graphics chip engineer for ATI Technologies and later AMD. Drebin, whose LinkedIn profile puts his new title as "senior director" at Apple, was also responsible for the design of the graphics chip used in Nintendo's GameCube console.

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