Admiring the success of Apple chips, Qualcomm rolls up its sleeves

Almost two years after the launch of Apple’s M1 chips, and a week after the announcement of the M2, Qualcomm takes the stage to discuss strategy and performance.

Apple has just announced its new ARM chip, the M2 // Source: Apple

If Qualcomm remains very dominant in the smartphone market with its Snapdragon SoCs, it feels that something is missing from it on the laptop side. Of which note: the acquisition of the start up Nuvia last year must help the company to pass the fifth. Above all, we must react to Apple.

Apple makes people envious

What makes the success of Apple Silicon chips (M1, M1 Max, M1 Ultra and now Apple M2) is not only their performance. Direct derivatives of chipsets integrated into the iPhone, they are very efficient. And, their ARM architecture allows them to launch both the usual programs and certain applications hitherto confined to mobiles.

A versatility that inevitably makes the competition envious; especially since Qualcomm has something to play for, where Intel is still only considering launching ARM processors in its new Alder Lake range. But resistance is getting organized: Intel recently poached Mike Filippo, Apple’s ARM specialist. Suffice to say that Qualcomm has every interest in accelerating so as not to lose its ascendancy.

Fortunately, the firm already has a head start. Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, for example, is already powered by an ARM processor in the Microsoft SQ1 — designed by Qualcomm.

Qualcomm’s future plans

In an interview with cnet

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon says he’s grateful that Apple is clearing ARM’s ground on laptop. ” The right time to do this is now, because we need perfect alignment of the stars “, adds the entrepreneur, who wants to take advantage of the breath of fresh air created by the growing needs for mobility, and the democratization of teleworking in recent years to strengthen his position in the market.

This is precisely where Nuvia, one of the brand’s latest acquisitions, enters. Founded by industry veterans chipsets of Google, Arm and Apple, it is seen by Qualcomm as the keystone of its future success.

Beautiful promises and a barely veiled enthusiasm, which will nevertheless have to pass through the sieve of reality. Today, the computer component crisis does not leave manufacturers free to innovate. And according to Cristiano Amon, it should last until the end of 2023.

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Worse: it pushes to internalize the production of certain parts. This is particularly the case of Apple with its in-house chips, but also soon with its own modems, which could find their place in future iDevices to the detriment of models from Qualcomm.

Nothing that seems to worry the company, which says that its results are not (yet) affected. And to add with a smile that Apple ” knows our number, they know where to find us “. Also, Qualcomm is keeping a very close eye on augmented reality, VR and the metaverse. So many major levers on which he intends to pull sooner or later. ” We are about five years away from [premières] realistic AR glasses “, slips Amon to CNET. “ This is not a technological challenge on which we have no visibility. ” Something which, admit, would have been rather funny, while we are talking about glasses.

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