Hall of Fame
Dan W. Dobberpuhl
For his role in developing low-power, high-performance computer technology used in today’s mobile devices.
Today we take for granted the mobile devices in our pockets that provide the computing performance of yesterday’s supercomputers. For the past two decades, Dan Dobberpuhl has been at the forefront of low-power, high-performance computing technology. Technology that Dan developed made its way directly into Apple’s iPhone and iPad and more broadly into all of today’s mobile electronics.
An Illinois native, Dobberpuhl was born and raised in Streator. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1967. Upon graduation, he worked as an electronics engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense. He left the Department of Defense to join the General Electric Integrated Circuits Lab in 1973. He worked as a designer of Application Specific Integrated Circuits.
In 1976, he began a career in the microprocessor industry with the Semiconductor Engineering Group at Digital Equipment Corporation. At DEC, he worked as a design engineer leading teams designing microprocessors, such as the DEC T-11 and MicroVAX. Dobberpuhl was extremely successful at DEC and rose to become one of five senior corporate consulting engineers, which was DEC’s highest technical position. He led the design of the first three generations of the highest performing CPUs of that era, the DEC Alpha processors. In addition, he co-authored the widely used textbook, The Design and Analysis of VLSI Circuits.
In 1993, he founded and directed DECs Palo Alto and Austin Design Centers. These centers were the place where the high-performance, low-power StrongARM chip was developed. After, he co-found the startup company, SiByte. As CEO of SiByte, he led the design of the first commercial Multi-Core System on a Chip processor, SB1250 high-performance System on a Chip. In 2000, at one of the highest valuations for a private fabless chip company, SiByte was acquired by Broadcom Corporation.
After leaving Broadcom, he co-founded P.A. Semi, a fabless semiconductor company that designed the PWRficient family of Power Architecture processors, which was acquired by Apple in 2008. The low-power, high-performance technology developed in P.A. Semi was the underpinning of the SOC processors used in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices.
He retired from Apple in 2009.
Dobberpuhl remains actively involved in the engineering world as an investor and advisor to a number of startups, including Sprite Robotics, a company founded by Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering alumni and faculty. A short list of his notable awards includes the 2003 IEEE Solid State Circuits Award; membership in the National Academy of Engineering; the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois’ Distinguished Alumni Award; and the College of Engineering at Illinois’ Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dan and his wife Carol live in Monterey, California, and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in January. They have two children and two grandchildren.
- BS, 1967, Electrical Engineering