Google buys chip start-up from ex-Apple designers

After Apple bought P.A. Semi in 2008, a few engineers struck out on their own to found Agnilux. Now Google has decided to snap up the stealthy start-up.

Google and Apple continue to find themselves on opposite sides of the world, as Google has apparently agreed to buy a chip-design start-up populated by former Apple employees.

Thomson Reuters' PEHub reported Tuesday that Agnilux, a stealth chip start-up in San Jose, Calif., is Google's latest acquisition. A company spokesman confirmed the parties had reached a deal but provided no further details on one of Google's more curious acquisitions in recent memory.

Little is known about Agnilux other than the fact that it was founded by former employees of P.A. Semi, the chip start-up Apple bought in 2008. The New York Times attempted to track down details about the company in February and didn't get very far, but was able to confirm that several former P.A. Semi and Apple employees were among the co-founders, as well as Scott Redman, a former software architect at TiVo.

That raises more than a few questions about what Google might have in mind for the start-up. Google has commissioned its own server hardware for years, and the Times believes that Agnilux is working on a server chip.

But with a former TiVo employee on board, it's possible Google has the Google TV effort in mind for any custom chips produced by the start-up. Either way, rank this one among one of the more interesting acquisitions Google has made in the seven months since CEO Eric Schmidt said the company was ready to open its wallet again.

Agnilux's Web site, spartan as it was prior to news of the acquisition breaking, has been taken down but is still available in Google's cache. That likely won't last very long.

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