Qualcomm buys startup founded by former Apple chip designers


“Leadership in processor performance will be essential in defining and delivering the next era of IT innovation,” said Williams. “The combination of NUVIA and Qualcomm will bring together the industry’s best talent, technology and engineering resources to create a new class of high-performance computing platforms that set the bar for our industry.”

The move could indicate that Qualcomm plans to design its own ARM processor cores rather than relying on ARM’s Cortex designs. Rival Apple uses its own ARM-based cores for its A-series chips, and they are generally recognized to perform better than Qualcomm designs. Nuvia has also designed its own cores and recently published preliminary results from its “Phoenix” processor, claiming double the performance per watt of competing chips.

The deal with Nuvia could also help Qualcomm rely less on ARM. This could be crucial given that chip rival NVIDIA has acquired ARM (pending regulatory approval). While Nuvia originally founded the company to build server chips, Qualcomm said it will use Nuvia’s technology to power “flagship smartphones, next-generation laptops and digital cockpits, as well as advanced systems for the server. ‘driver assistance, extended reality and infrastructure network solutions’.

The announcement included statements of support from a number of Qualcomm partners, including Microsoft, Google, Samsung, ASUS, and General Motors, who all want to see better performance from Qualcomm compared to Apple.

Apple for follow-up Williams in 2019 for breach of contract, saying he tried to poach Apple employees for Nuvia before leaving the company. Nuvia, meanwhile, filed a counter-suit accusing Apple of doing essentially the same in return.

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