The future of Qualcomm’s PC processor development seemingly resides in the hands of Nuvia, the Arm processor design team that Qualcomm bought in early 2021. Qualcomm executives said Wednesday that a finished Nuvia-designed product would reach store shelves in late 2023, and that the timeframe does not represent a delay.
At the end of the question-and-answer session with Qualcomm executives following the announcement of its second-quarter 2022 earnings, chief executive Cristiano Amon was asked about the notebook PC market, and Qualcomm’s plans to penetrate it.
“We are on track,” Amon replied. “We have been working with Microsoft for many years. So I think with Windows 11… as I mentioned before, it’s the first time you’ll have full supporting 64-bit emulation on Arm, the first time you’ll have a platform which is ready for commercial and enterprise deployment. We did, within the quarter, launch with Lenovo, the first enterprise ThinkPad, and we have a number of designs with our [Snapdragon] 8cx Generation 3.
“As we think about the next generation, we have been developing our own CPU that has been designed by the Nuvia team, and we are going after that performance…. High scale in the enterprise, and development is on track and we expect to have that in late 2023,” Amon added.
That appeared to be a delay, given that Qualcomm was relatively specific late last year about its timeframe—and it’s not quite clear what “have that” means in terms of either sampling the part or shipping it, either. A Qualcomm representative said in an email, however, that the timing was consistent with the roadmap the company presented at its investor day last November. “2023 refers to device launches,” the Qualcomm representative said.
At Qualcomm’s investor conference in November 2021, Dr. James Thompson, chief technology officer at Qualcomm, described the current Nuvia roadmap at that time. “They’re pretty far along at this point,” Thompson said, talking about the first Snapdragon processors featuring Nuvia technology. “We’ll be sampling a product nine months from now, or something like that.”
If Thompson’s timeframe was accurate, that would have put the sampling period at around August 2022, with a shipping product scheduled for sometime in 2023. Amon’s statement implies that it would take more than a year to sample the processors to PC companies, who would then design them in and ship the finished product.
To be fair, the Nuvia timeline was one of the only question marks on Qualcomm’s earnings report. Qualcomm reported net income of $2.934 billion, up 67 percent compared to a year ago, on record revenue that climbed 41 percent to $11.164 billion. Handset sales shot up by an incredible 56 percent, Qualcomm reported, and the company captured 75 percent of the processors in Samsung’s Galaxy S22 handset. (Samsung typically splits the processors in the Galaxy series between its own Exynos processor as well as the Snapdragon, and the Samsung Exynos 2200, which used an AMD GPU for ray tracing, never really materialized.)
Amon said twice during the call that Qualcomm is no longer a communications company. Instead, he said, Qualcomm is a “leading connected processor company for the intelligent edge.”