Qualcomm teases custom Oryon CPU cores developed by Nuvia • The Register

Qualcomm intends to ship processors with custom ARM-compatible CPU cores, developed in-house by the acquired Nuvia team, within the next two years.

These cores will be arranged in clusters and marketed under a new brand: Oryon. Therefore, future Qualcomm Snapdragon processors will use these Oryon cores, Qualcomm hopes. These chips target Windows-on-Arm laptops as well as mobile devices and other types of systems.

The US chip designer had hoped to have samples of Oryon-based silicon available to PC makers by now, but these components are now expected to ship into products by late 2023 or early 2024. That’s a slight delay for those looking forward to Qualcomm’s next-gen silicon for laptops and PCs.

Today’s Qualcomm Snapdragon system-on-chips use cryo CPU units consisting of cores developed and licensed by Arm. Qualcomm has historically developed its own custom ARM-compatible cores, and more recently has relied on off-the-shelf ARM cores. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which launched just yesterday, uses standard Arm Cortex cores.

Qualcomm is likely hoping that its custom cores, tailored and built exactly how it wants them, will allow it to better compete with the processors used in other portable systems like Apple’s custom silicon Macs. It largely cuts off Arm, giving Qualcomm greater control over its hardware and software stack. No further details were given about Oryon, which was teased at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii today.

Oryon, we’re told, was designed by Nuvia, the Silicon Valley startup that Qualcomm bought for $1.4 billion in 2021. Nuvia designed custom Arm-compatible CPU cores for servers, but its designs can be adapted for other markets such as personal computing. The engineers working on these designs and the designs themselves were taken over by Qualcomm, which had made it clear that it wanted to use Nuvia’s technology to power its future chips.

In fact, the Oryon was teased onstage by Nuvia co-founder and semiconductor world veteran Gerard Williams.

As we mentioned earlier, Arm is not happy with this situation. In a lawsuit against Qualcomm filed earlier this year, Arm claimed that Qualcomm must obtain Arm’s permission to transfer and use Nuvia’s designs, per the fine print in Nuvia’s license with Arm to use its architecture.

According to Arm, Qualcomm did not obtain this approval, so Arm canceled Nuvia’s license and demanded that all Nuvia designs be destroyed and not used in new products.

The Snapdragon designer said he complied with that request, but Arm is concerned that Nuvia’s Arm-derived blueprints and technologies are still in use at Qualcomm. If so, Arm says, Qualcomm would be violating its own licenses with Arm, meaning Arm could terminate all of Qualcomm’s rights to use its technologies, which would pose a big problem: Qualcomm still relies on Arm-licensed ones cores and architectures for its chips.

Qualcomm has subsequently argued that Arm wanted to take advantage of this situation – the requirement for approval – to extort additional fees and higher royalties from Qualcomm, and that such approval was not required anyway. Arm says consent is required and so the two find themselves at an impasse.

Arm, owned by Softbank, is suing Qualcomm for breach of contract and demanding that any designs derived from Nuvia Arm be destroyed and not used in products. Arm has cited Qualcomm’s claims in the media that it intends to use Nuvia’s technologies as the basis for its complaint that Qualcomm is breaking its agreements with Arm.

Now, Qualcomm executives have taken to the stage in a livestreamed keynote and bragged about how the Nuvia team has produced “world-class” CPU cores for the Snapdragon line that will rival the competition. The stakes in this lawsuit continue to mount.

Full Disclosure: Qualcomm paid for this correspondent’s flights and lodging to cover the Snapdragon Summit in Maui, Hawaii today, although as should be apparent from our past, current and future reporting, this will not impact our independent reporting.

https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/17/qualcomm_nuvia_arm/ Qualcomm teases custom Oryon CPU cores developed by Nuvia • The Register

Rick Schindler

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