Former Samsung, AMD chip exec defects to Apple

Apple has poached another high-profile chip executive. This time, the new hire is making headlines because he's defecting straight from Apple's courtroom foe and smartphone arch-nemesis. According to the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog, Jim Mergard has left Samsung's Austin, Texas chip design team to go work for Apple.

The blog says Megard was among the "most prominent" new recruits in that team. Mergard's career also included a 16-year stint at AMD, where he served Vice President and Chief Engineer and was "known for playing a leading role in the development" of AMD's low-power E-series APUs, which are part of the Brazos platform.

This hire may be more significant than some realize. Patrick Moorhead, a former AMD VP and Corporate Fellow who now heads his own analyst firm, told the Journal that Mergard offers "deep expertise" in system-on-a-chip devices. The way Moorhead sees it, Mergard would be "very capable of pulling together internal and external resources to do a PC processor for Apple."

Apple is no stranger to custom chip design, of course. The company has featured its own A-series chips in devices dating back to the iPhone 4. Its new A6 SoC, which powers the iPhone 5, even eschews cookie-cutter ARM Cortex cores in favor of Apple's own, ARM-compatible ones. Building a bigger, faster chip and slapping it in a next-gen MacBook Air wouldn't necessarily be a huge step up from that—and by the looks of it, Mergard could be the man to make it happen.

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