Tech

Qualcomm unveils an ambitious roadmap that includes advances in automotive technical design and powerful PC chips.

Something to look forward to: Qualcomm has been on the rise over the past few years, especially for its role in the development of 5G technology, although it hasn’t quite achieved brand recognition from companies like Intel, AMD, or Nvidia. Most people still think of Qualcomm as a company that supplies specialized chips like modems for smartphones, and while they do more, they have developed a multi-year plan that puts more emphasis on automotive technology and even powerful PC hardware.

Qualcomm has been building components and software platforms for some time that support several types of wireless standards (including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), as well as things like wearables, headphones, PCs, and AR or VR headsets. Unfortunately, not many people know or understand the scale of the company’s offerings.

In an effort to address this issue, newly appointed CEO Cristiano Amon and other Qualcomm executives laid out a new overarching vision that brings all of these elements and more together at the company’s recent Investor Day event.

Under the banner of empowering connected smart peripherals, Amon and others highlighted the company’s growing diversification efforts beyond its mobile legacy, including consumer and commercial IoT, networking infrastructure and more. They also presented a series of figures and new projections to underpin their plan to aim to grow their target market by 7x over the next decade or so.

At the same time Qualcomm announced An important new design victory for the Snapdragon Ride platform with BMW, highlighting the company’s growing presence in the automotive market. The full details have yet to be released, but, in fact, future versions of at least some of the BMW ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) features in cars starting in 2024 will run on Qualcomm chips.

Building on last week’s strong quarterly earnings, the news highlighted the company’s recent successes, as well as an important shift in priorities that Amon is making in the direction of the company. He previously led Qualcomm’s technology and products, so it’s no surprise he’s taking these steps, but they do reflect a company that is a little less focused on its licensing business and more focused on new products and technologies.

The announcements also allowed the company to address the albatross that some feared to hang around its neck – a potential loss of revenue from Apple’s 5G modems as the iPhone maker eventually goes into self-development. Qualcomm’s new financial models have shown this loss to be less of a concern than many first thought.

In addition, company executives stressed that the growing focus on these diversified markets could be driven by the company’s unified technology roadmap. In other words, they made it clear that their core technology capabilities in connectivity, computing, graphics, edge AI and cameras could be used in multiple markets. In one small example, they discussed how their advances in smartphone photography could be used to improve the performance of the image sensor in connected cars.

Qualcomm has highlighted its achievements in several lesser-known but growing markets. In the area of ​​radio frequency interfaces (RFFEs), which are chips that sit between the antenna and the modem of a connected cellular device, the company discussed how improvements made to smartphones could be used in automotive, IoT, and other applications.

On the computing side, Qualcomm also gave a few more interesting points about its future CPU design, made possible by the Nuvia acquisition. The company said it will test the chip in 2022 with commercial products expected in 2023. It is important to note that the company’s management has clarified that they are working on Nuvia-developed CPU cores for high-performance smartphones and automotive applications in addition to the mainstream PC market.

They also hinted that they expect to see performance levels on PCs that rival Apple’s M-series chips. Qualcomm will have to prove it first, but the fact that it is willing to make such a claim gives some indication of the level of technical sophistication we should expect.

For longtime observers of the company, there was nothing fundamentally new about the picture that Qualcomm presented in its Investor daybut the vision was much broader. The company has been in the automotive and PC markets for some time now, and has been supporting connected IoT devices for a long time. Likewise, it has been performing artificial intelligence processing in its smartphone chips for years.

What’s new is that the world around the company has changed a lot, and now the concept of smart connected peripherals makes much more sense. This is another classic example of how accelerating the adoption of existing technology creates important new opportunities for companies that were smart enough to plan and wise enough to admit that the time was right. Now we just need to see how they are implementing this new vision.

Bob O’Donnell – Founder and Principal Analyst TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting company that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the high-tech industry and the professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech




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