In January 2021, Qualcomm acquired Nuvia, a company set to advance its efforts in making custom Arm processors. Once out of the gate, Qualcomm was very clear about its plans. It would use these chips to compete with Apple’s M1 processors, and the former would begin sampling to OEMs in the second half of 2022 for Windows on Arm laptops. During the company’s earnings call today, CEO Cristiano Amon confirmed that the company is on track to ship products in late 2023, about a year after sampling began.
There are pretty much two ways in which a wizard can work. The first is licensing architecture and design from Arm, which companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek do. You get cores like Cortex X2, Cortex A710, etc. It is assembled in a package that typically resembles an Arm’s reference design. The other option is to use your own set of instructions and design your own cores, which is what Apple does, and that’s what Qualcomm will do when Nuvia technology comes to market.
And according to San Diego, that’s what you’ll need to compete with Apple’s M1. However, it also puts Qualcomm in a much better space with OEMs. You might realize that if Nuvia chips are to be sampled to OEMs in just a few months, the second half of 2023 looks like Is that true Long time to wait for the product to be shipped.
This happens due to the slow computer hardware market. With Intel processors, OEMs have the chips on hand from 12 to 18 months. Now, all of a sudden that timeline seems right.
Unfortunately, this timeline puts Qualcomm in a difficult position. With mobile processors, Arm announces its new designs at the beginning of the year and Qualcomm announces a chip based on it at the end of the year. That’s why it uses Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Cortex X2. However, the new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is still using Cortex X1.
Intel and Apple do not have this problem because everything is developed in-house. Intel can sample its chips whenever it wants because it doesn’t wait for another company to design them first. That’s what has changed for Qualcomm with Nuvia technology. Gets a full suite of hardware development.
Make no mistake, Qualcomm will have some catching up to do. If a chip shipped in late 2023 is the one that will compete with Apple’s M1 and Apple is already shipping the M2, Qualcomm is still behind despite years of headfirst. However, this technology is what will give the company the tools it needs to compete.
If you were hoping to announce what is supposed to be the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 at the Snapdragon Summit in December, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. If so, you will have to wait a while before we see a shipping product.
This technology will reach the mobile phone as well. Qualcomm has made it clear since the day it announced its Nuvia acquisition that this technology will come to its computing portfolio first, and that this is the chip that will rival the Apple M1, but that’s not where the technology ends. You should start seeing dedicated processors across the entire lineup, but of course, if the PC chip is coming in late 2023, mobile won’t arrive in products until at least 2024.