As of June 30th, Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon has taken over as the company’s CEO, replacing his predecessor Steve Mollenkopf, who has now retired. Prior to the appointment, Amon had a long history and tenure at Qualcomm filling engineering roles, and previously filling the role of president of QCT (The company’s semiconductor business).

In statements to Reuters, Amon had made comments regarding the company’s future CPU roadmap, which come to further contextualise the company’s completed acquisition of NUVIA last March.

 "We needed to have the leading performance for a battery-powered device," Amon said. "If Arm, which we've had a relationship with for years, eventually develops a CPU that's better than what we can build ourselves, then we always have the option to license from Arm."

The wording here is again very bullish on Qualcomm’s part, reinforcing the idea that the company is extremely confident in NUVIA’s CPU microarchitecture and that it will have no issue in differentiating itself in terms of performance compared to what Arm has available in terms of CPU IP. Last March, the company had noted that work on integrating NUVIA’s custom CPU core into a laptop-oriented Snapdragon SoC would be an immediate focus, with Amon now stating that they are planning on bringing such a design to market in 2022.

In terms of timeline and against which Arm core the NUVIA design might compete against depends on when exactly in 2022 the new chip might make it to market – if it’s in the first half, then we’ll see it compete against the already announced Cortex-X2 cores from Arm. If it’s in the latter half, it’s possible it will be positioned against Arm’s next-gen Sophia cores. In either case, Qualcomm seems confident in terms of beating the Arm Cortex designs, which bodes well for next-gen Snapdragons.

Amon’s comment that if Arm is able to build a better CPU than Qualcomm’s own designs is also reminiscent of the company’s previous generation custom CPU endeavours: the last time the company had employed a custom microarchitecture was in the 2016 Snapdragon 820 with its Kryo cores. Competing Cortex cores had been faster and more power efficient in a smaller area footprint, which lead the company to use those designs instead, and eventually leading to Qualcomm dissolving its CPU design teams – a decision which later ended up with no in-house design capabilities up until the recent NUVIA purchase.

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  • defaultluser - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    Yeah, until it gets beaten consistently for a few quarters, and you end-up back in the dust bin with Kry o 820. and later the Centriq.
  • Yojimbo - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    This is probably the main reason Qualcomm is against the NVIDIA purchase of ARM while Mediatek is for it. Qualcomm doesn't want more money pumped into ARM to make more competitive CPU cores, as that would allow Qualcomm's competitors (which are Mediatek and soon Unisoc) to build SoCs that are more competitive with Qualcomm's Nuvia-based SoCs. A less active ARM makes Qualcomm more dominant.
  • plopke - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    A bit off topic.
    Lot of politicians are complaining the big tech is too big but the last 20 years of my life i see them buying up companies none stop. For me this is a other example were I am just please stop. But then promises are made , hands are shaken and few years down the line people go "How did we let them get so powerfull and market dominating"
    And yes I am aware halting Nvidia would feel very unfair since everyone else got away with it but I personally find you have to start at some point.
  • mode_13h - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    I don't see a very strong case for the US government to deny Nvidia's acquisition of ARM. I do think it's probably bad for most of ARM's customers, in the long run, and therefore the entire ARM ecosystem. But, that's not really the government's purview.

    It's not as if they're buying out a direct competitor, which is usually the grounds for rejecting mergers & acquisitions. There are really just a couple small overlaps between them.
  • lmcd - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    Honestly what are you talking about? Mali graphics covers over half of the graphics solutions on the market at this point.
  • Yojimbo - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    Arm's Mali hardly competes with Nvidia's graphics. Who exactly has a choice of implementing Mali graphics or Nvidia graphics and will be losing choice if Nvidia buys Arm? Practically speaking, Arm's competitive offerings will be made better because Nvidia's graphics IP will eventually be offered to customers as well and it will be preferable to Mali in many instances. But that won't come as a result of loss of choice in the market. And it's not like there aren't other graphics providers besides Arm or Nvidia in the business sectors where each of them operate, anyway.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, July 3, 2021 - link

    > Mali graphics covers over half of the graphics solutions on the market at this point.

    Nvidia only slightly overlaps with their top-tier offering, and hasn't traditionally offered it as standalone IP (although they've announced a deal with Mediatek that amounts to that). It's not obvious whether Nvidia can or has any desire to try and scale down its solutions to compete with Mali's lower tiers.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, July 3, 2021 - link

    Also, I've read that the top teir Mali isn't terribly popular. I think Mediatek was its main customer.
  • at_clucks - Saturday, July 3, 2021 - link

    Buying a competitor from the same field (graphics) but not the same market (mobile vs. datacenter, or highend vs. lowend) is even worse as it gets you closer to having the entire market.
  • Yojimbo - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    Don't confuse the Arm ecosystem with Arm's customers. Firstly, I think NVIDIA buying Arm is good for most of Arm's customers compared to any reasonable alternative. But it's definitely good for the ecosystem. To say one thinks it's bad for the ecosystem is to say that one thinks NVIDIA is going to make a mistake. NVIDIA certainly has no intention of damaging the ecosystem of their purchase. They don't have any reason to shut it down (sometimes companies do buy properties to shut them down). It's certainly good for the expansion of Arm into new areas such as Arm in the datacenter and Arm in OpenRan. And actually, it doesn't matter so much if it's "good" for Arm's current customers or not. A concern might be if it were particularly disruptive for a significant segment. But the basic question is whether it causes a problem for free and fair competition in the market as a whole.

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