Apple Snags Chip Engineer From Rival Samsung
Apple has hired Jim Mergard, a one-time AMD employee, from its rival Samsung, highlighting the growing competition for top chip engineers.Ex-Advanced Micro Devices chip engineer Jim Mergard, one of a number of AMD veterans who in recent years have left the company for Samsung Electronics, reportedly is now on his way to Samsung arch-rival Apple. Mergard, who came to Samsung in June 2011 as its vice president and chief engineer after 16 years with AMD, has been hired by Apple, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move illustrates the demand for chip engineers not only in PCs and servers, but also in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and sheds more light on the growing competition between x86-based chip makers like Intel and AMD and ARM Holdings and its list of partners, such as Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. While Intel and AMD chips dominate the PC and server markets, it's ARM-designed chips that are found in the bulk of smartphones and tablets. And as both Intel and AMD push to gain inroads into the mobile market, ARM and some of its partners are looking to move their low-power chips into PCs and servers, widening the competitive field. The move also raises the question of Apple’s processor plans. Currently the company—like Samsung—leverages ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs for its mobile devices, like its iPhone and iPad, and Intel processors for its Macs. A former AMD executive who now heads a research firm noted to the Journal that Mergard has experience in both PC chips and SoCs.
Mergard was a key PC chip engineer during his time at AMD, including helping lead the development of the company’s “Brazos” accelerated processing unit (APU) aimed at entry-level PCs and notebooks. He came to Samsung as part of a wave of AMD engineers and officials leaving the company. He also came at a time when Samsung reportedly began gearing up to challenge Intel and AMD in the server chip business. Samsung over the past couple of years has been aggressive in pursuing chip engineers from rival companies.