Qualcomm prepares new Arm server chip • The Register

Chipmaker Qualcomm is said to be gearing up to re-enter the arm server market based on technology the company gleaned from last year’s acquisition of startup Nuvia.

Qualcomm is reportedly seeking customers for a product resulting from its acquisition of chip startup Nuvia in early 2021, according to Bloomberg, which cites the usual anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Nuvia was an ARM processor startup founded in 2019 by ex-Apple chip designer Gerard Williams along with a handful of other notable CPU engineers from other companies detailed through The registry back then.

Nuvia’s focus was on developing Arm-based data center chips, but the story surrounding the Qualcomm acquisition was that the Nuvia team wanted to strengthen their own Arm processor expertise so they could potentially develop their own cores for their SnapDragon smartphone chips, instead of using designs provided by Arm.

Qualcomm is known to have abandoned its predecessors Arm-based server processor project Back in 2018, the company halted development of its 48-core data center-focused Centriq 2400 after the company was forced to cut costs after glitches, including a hostile takeover attempt by Broadcom and Qualcomm’s own takeover of NXP, which failed.

The company wasn’t the only company to get burned trying to break into the Arm server space, as Broadcom abandoned its own server chip project and AMD decided to focus its server development efforts on the Zen x86 processor cores, although she actually brought that Opteron A1100 series of Arm server chips to market in 2016.

Things have changed and the hyperscale and cloud companies have started to show renewed interest in ARM server chips due to their higher power efficiency compared to other server chips.

A new wave of Arm server processors, led by Ampere Computing and its CEO, former Intel President Renee James, has made some headway. Microsoft’s azure hosts virtual machines running on Ampere Altra chips, and Google launched its first Arm-based instances based on Ampere Altra last month. HPE also announced this Arm-based ProLiant data center servers at its Discover 2022 conference in June.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, AWS has shown interest in Qualcomm’s latest offering, implying that the chipmaker already has working silicon to at least demonstrate to potential customers. AWS already offers server instances with their own Graviton Arm-based chips.

We’ve asked Qualcomm to confirm if it’s preparing an Arm-based data center chip, but the company wasn’t immediately available to respond.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm expressed interest in being part of a consortium of chipmakers that could join forces buy arm by its owner, SoftBank, rather than the chip designer being taken public. Others, including Korean chipmaker SK hynix and Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, have also expressed interest in joining such a consortium.

In comments to investors on a Result call CEO Cristiano Amon reported its second quarter results in late March and said, “We are heartened by the widespread interest in our upcoming products, which utilize our industry-leading CPUs developed by our NUVIA team. We continue to drive the inevitable transition to ARM-based computing while redefining the future of mobile productivity.”

He later added to the same call: “While we are thinking about the next generation, we have developed our own CPU designed by the NUVIA team. The development is on track and we expect that to be the case by the end of 2023 will.” ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/19/qualcomm_arm_server_chip/ Qualcomm prepares new Arm server chip • The Register

Laura Coffey

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