Apple has a habit of stealing key employees from other companies – and most recently, it stole a key chip design maker from its most hated rival, Samsung.

Jim Mergard, a 16-year veteran and former Vice President of AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), has left Samsung after his very short time at the South Korean company.

During his time at AMD, Mergard was responsible for lead the production of AMD’s Brazos chips – or, as they’re more commonly (and officially) called, AMD’s Fusion APUs. Mergard also has a lot of knowledge in SoCs, which stands for system-on-a-chip.

Both Apple and Samsung have been producing SoCs for their respective mobile devices for a while now, so it only makes sense that the two companies would be interested in someone – specifically Mergard – who knows a lot of that type of processor.

For whatever reason, Mergard obviously chose to become an Apple employee. No details about why were given from any party involved, but one can assume that his new role will certainly deal with iDevices and the SoCs that would go inside them. However, as a veteran of AMD, there’s also a possibility that he could be involved with new Mac processors, too. Could we see a SoC-based MacBook Air, as has been rumored for a long time? Could Macs switch to AMD’s x64 processors, thereby ending Apple’s seven-year long relationship with Intel?

“He would be very capable of pulling together internal and external resources to do a PC processor for Apple,” said Patrick Moorhead, a former AMD executive with whom Mergard obviously worked. Moorhead certainly doesn’t know what Mergard has in store at Apple, but, given Mergard’s history at AMD, it’s plausible that he could work with the Mac team to produce a processor for Apple’s desktop and laptop lines.

We’ll just have to keep waiting to see.

[WSJ]