Qualcomm, which is best known for designing CPUs for numerous Android devices, is now focusing on a new market: laptops. Cristiano Amon, in his first interview since becoming Qualcomm’s president and CEO, says he believes Qualcomm can produce the greatest laptop chip on the market. And no one is better suited to build that chip than a group of architects who have previously worked on Apple semiconductors.
According to a new interview with Reuters, Qualcomm is confident in its ability to grow its business. Qualcomm used to license the basic blueprint from chip designer ARM, despite the fact that Qualcomm makes the chips that power many Android handsets. The company now creates its own mobile CPUs.
It’s also investing in its own laptop designs after acquiring startup Nuvia for $1.4 billion.
In March, Qualcomm and Nuvia signed a final agreement. Gerard Williams, the chief designer on iOS chips from the A7 through the A12X, created Nuvia, a short-lived firm. Apple sued Williams for breach of contract when he left the firm, alleging that he breached anticompetitive stipulations in his employment contract by forming Nuvia.
Williams is currently Qualcomm’s senior vice president of engineering, where he is in charge of the company’s attempts to create its own laptop chips.
In order to compete with Apple’s M1 processor, which is constructed using an ARM core architecture, Amon told Reuters that Qualcomm required its own in-house semiconductor designs to provide to customers. Implementing 5G connection into the chip design, which Qualcomm has a lot of experience with, is a big part of that.
“For a battery-powered device, we needed to have the best performance. We always have the option to license from ARM if ARM, with whom we’ve had a long relationship, creates a CPU that is superior than what we can design ourselves,” Amon added.
According to Reuters, Qualcomm will begin offering Nuvia-based designs next year, although it could be another year before we see them.
Qualcomm is currently entirely focused on the laptop market. Nvidia, AMD, and Intel dominate the data center business, and the company has no ambitions to enter it. However, Amon claims that the company is willing to license Nuvia’s data center designs.
Qualcomm’s new market stance is expected to raise some eyebrows at Apple, as the business currently supplies connectivity processors to iPhones.