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Some speculate that Apple is serious about its future with the Xserve and that perhaps Papermaster will help Apple rev up its enterprise offerings. Mark Papermaster was last in charge of IBM’s Blade Server division. That is very unlikely since Apple needs far more than a blade server genius to make it in the enterprise. To make it there it would need an entire enterprise sales and support division. That runs entirely counter to how service and sales work at Apple now — wrapped around Apple Stores.
Larry Dignan of ZDNet states that Papermaster could be useful to Apple’s MobileMe initiatives and cloud computing. Like the enterprise server theory that too seems a stretch. Apple would be better served by learning and cooperating with its new best buddy, Google. And Apple would be ill-served by strategically planning to battle Google directly with cloud computing. It would be far better to partner as both Apple and Google have a common enemy in Microsoft.
Papermaster’s role at Apple is a mystery but his experiences and know-how at IBM are suggestive. Papermaster has deep chip design experience and knowledge of IBM’s future plans with the Power Architecture. Three IBM whitepapers by Mark Papermaster all pertain to modern concerns behind processor design that are relevant to Apple.
One such paper addresses modern programs and modern cache design. Another centers on high-performance PowerPC processors, while a third deals with branch predictability of programs in synthetic workloads. This last one has broad applicability to the development of methods of estimating, measuring and comparing the performance of computer systems by utilizing “parametric synthetic workloads” that mimic the behavior of long-running real world applications.
If Apple’s interest in PA Semi is multifaceted and ultimately interested in developing silicon technologies that uniquely position Apple’s three major platforms (Mac, iPhone and iPod) for optimal future competitiveness, certainly Papermaster’s deep history at IBM and knowledge of Power Architecture and chip design in general could very well serve the interest of Jobs & Co. at Apple. Papermaster is more likely another critical addition to Apple’s already superstar team of PA Semi engineers.