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|Qualcomm Acquires Nuvia, A Server Chip Designer Founded By Ex-apple Execs by fredssa: 11:39pm On Jan 13|
Qualcomm is betting big on a company designing powerful but power-efficient chips for data centers -- $1.4 billion big. The company on Wednesday said it has reached a deal to acquire Nuvia, a two-year-old startup run by former Apple chip executives.
But Qualcomm won't just be aiming its newly acquired technology at servers. Instead, it plans to use Nuvia CPUs -- the brains of devices -- in everything from its smartphone chips to its laptop processors and automotive components. That could mean much more powerful and battery efficient Samsung Galaxy smartphones, Lenovo laptops and General Motors cars.
While Nuvia and Qualcomm both use Arm technology for their processors, Qualcomm licenses the cores from Arm while Nuvia designs its own. It allows the startup to customize them for high performance and power efficiency better than Qualcomm is able, as well as makes it less reliant on Arm, which is being acquired by Nvidia for $40 billion. That's important as mobile-like chips expand to more areas, 5G becomes widespread and consumers and businesses demand more and more battery life from their devices. Apple also designs its own Arm-based processor cores. Qualcomm previously designed its own cores but moved away from that strategy.
"5G, the convergence of computing and mobile architectures, and the expansion of mobile technologies into other industries are significant opportunities for Qualcomm," Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm's president who will take on the role of CEO this summer, said in a press release. "Together [with Nuvia], we are very well positioned to redefine computing and enable our ecosystem of partners to drive innovation and deliver a new class of products and experiences for the 5G era."
Qualcomm has long been known as the world's biggest wireless chipmaker, and it counts Samsung, Apple and virtually all major handset makers in the world as its customers. The aim with mobile chips has long been to be as powerful as possible while consuming low amounts of power. In recent years, Qualcomm also has pushed its components into computers, cars and various other products. It's likely that Samsung's new Galaxy S21 lineup, expected to launch Thursday at the company's first Unpacked of 2021, will use Qualcomm Snapdragon 88 processors. And future phones could benefit from Nuvia's high-performance, battery efficient cores.
Qualcomm's acquisition of Nuvia also could give Arm PCs the boost they need. While Apple's first Arm-based computers have earned rave reviews, early Windows PCs that use Qualcomm chips have been described as under powered. That could change when the company incorporates Nuvia's technology into its processors. Arm CEO Simon Segars told CNET's Stephen Shankland that Apple's M1-based Macs likely will kickstart the Arm-based PC era. Already, companies like Samsung and Microsoft use Qualcomm processors in tablets and PCs instead of powerful but battery hungry chips from Intel.
"This acquisition and the pedigree of the team Qualcomm acquired now positions [it] to go back to fully custom-designed CPU cores and back to a proprietary CPU architecture, which I think is the right technical direction for Qualcomm," Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin noted.
Nuvia overall will help Qualcomm better compete against Apple, which has become a leader when it comes to chip performance. Apple's A Series chips have long powered its iPhones and iPads, and late last year, it introduced its first computers that use its own M1 processors instead of chips from Intel. The new computers have powerful performance, but also sip battery life, largely because of the innovations Apple has packed deep inside its chips.
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