Meet Apple’s silicon VP Sribalan Santhanam who became its first Indian executive to speak at an iPhone keynote

Santhanam is Apple's VP for silicon technologies

For years, Apple has been pushing diversity and the very embodiment of its push towards this has been at its keynotes. Last evening, during the iPhone 11 Pro part of the keynote, the bit which was being delivered by Apple’s longtime senior VP of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, details for the new A13 Bionic chip were handed off to one Sribalan Santhanam who is a VP in Apple’s famed silicon group headed by Johny Srouji. With this, Sribalan Santhanam became the first Apple executive of Indian origin to take the stage to give a product demo. 

Santhanam came to Apple from legendary chip company PA Semi, which Apple acquired in 2008 under Steve Jobs. It was PA Semi’s technology that became the foundation of the iPhone which gives it a massive performance advantage over Android smartphones. Santhanam was a VP for design engineering there working alongside his boss Jony Srouji who is Apple’s Senior VP for hardware technologies. Before PA Semi, Santhanam was a senior director at Broadcom. 

While Srouji is in charge of the entire stack of Apple’s custom hardware technologies, Santhanam is directly responsible for the team that makes the A-series of processors.

The 53-year-old Santhanam is a silicon valley veteran who has been in the semiconductor business in the US since the mid-’90s. He did his master in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1989  and before that in 1987 he had graduated from Chennai’s famous Anna University with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering. 

Santhanam spoke in great detail about the A13 Bionic processor which is at the heart of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models. He gave out technical details about its new machine learning accelerators and overall architecture eloquently speaking about the performance improvements particularly with regards to power efficiency. Overall he proclaimed the iPhone 11 to be the best machine learning platform for mobile.