As of June 30th, Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon has taken over as the company’s CEO, replacing his predecessor Steve Mollenkopf, who has now retired. Prior to the appointment, Amon had a long history and tenure at Qualcomm filling engineering roles, and previously filling the role of president of QCT (The company’s semiconductor business).

In statements to Reuters, Amon had made comments regarding the company’s future CPU roadmap, which come to further contextualise the company’s completed acquisition of NUVIA last March.

 "We needed to have the leading performance for a battery-powered device," Amon said. "If Arm, which we've had a relationship with for years, eventually develops a CPU that's better than what we can build ourselves, then we always have the option to license from Arm."

The wording here is again very bullish on Qualcomm’s part, reinforcing the idea that the company is extremely confident in NUVIA’s CPU microarchitecture and that it will have no issue in differentiating itself in terms of performance compared to what Arm has available in terms of CPU IP. Last March, the company had noted that work on integrating NUVIA’s custom CPU core into a laptop-oriented Snapdragon SoC would be an immediate focus, with Amon now stating that they are planning on bringing such a design to market in 2022.

In terms of timeline and against which Arm core the NUVIA design might compete against depends on when exactly in 2022 the new chip might make it to market – if it’s in the first half, then we’ll see it compete against the already announced Cortex-X2 cores from Arm. If it’s in the latter half, it’s possible it will be positioned against Arm’s next-gen Sophia cores. In either case, Qualcomm seems confident in terms of beating the Arm Cortex designs, which bodes well for next-gen Snapdragons.

Amon’s comment that if Arm is able to build a better CPU than Qualcomm’s own designs is also reminiscent of the company’s previous generation custom CPU endeavours: the last time the company had employed a custom microarchitecture was in the 2016 Snapdragon 820 with its Kryo cores. Competing Cortex cores had been faster and more power efficient in a smaller area footprint, which lead the company to use those designs instead, and eventually leading to Qualcomm dissolving its CPU design teams – a decision which later ended up with no in-house design capabilities up until the recent NUVIA purchase.

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  • ikjadoon - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    That’s exactly what I wrote. A76 is a clean sheet design from 2018 for mid cores. What is the X-1 and X-2 lineage? We’re 4 years later and a single design is now being tweaked beyond its limits for large enough generational improvement.

    The X line should’ve been clean designs half a decade ago. Arm moved slow, Qualcomm flopped, Samsung gave up, NVIDIA lost hope. Then comes NUVIA and people are like, “Oh, actually, we could’ve done that too, but like, we just didn’t want to.”

    Huh? Nobody said each year needs a clean design. But, by Zeus, you’re going to make your high-performance cores just…faster middle cores? Anyone could’ve told Qualcomm (and many did): “Yeah, this is stupid. Let’s not put this into a laptop.”

    It’s been clear for ages: Arm was never going to stay in phones. As soon as the 1T perf gap closed in on mainstream x86, OEMs were interested in jumping ship from Wintel.

    Why do people always wildly misinterpret posts with the least charitable view and expect the authors to defend their outlandish claims?
  • Raqia - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    The issue was that the single A76 core design had to pull triple duty as a phone, laptop, and server core in various SoC configurations. If they were doing something targeted to just consumer laptops, the pipeline could be a bit longer, decode and ROB wider, and the cache hierarchy could reasonably end at L3 with bigger banks at L1 and L2.

    The first gen. Nuvia design will likely be a repurposed server design without any corresponding little cores, and possibly more uncore complexity than it needs. I doubt we'll see Nuvia cores in phones for a while until they get low power small cores with an uncore going, and I doubt they'll need more than just one of those big cores a phone or VR headset for benchmarketing purposes as the other blocks, ISP/DSP & GPU do most of the heavy lifting in low power use cases:
  • rmfx - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    It looks like Qualcomm is slowly adopting the Intel behavior from 10 years ago, that lead them in their current ridiculous position where the fall is only slowed down thanks to inertia.

    Qualcomm better have some amazing upcoming updates very soon to justify Nuvia's acquisition because if the non-apple competitivity takes off, the switch will be WAY faster than what happens in the x86 static world.
  • lmcd - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    Slowly? Qualcomm has looked awful basically since the Snapdragon 800.
  • Raqia - Friday, July 2, 2021 - link

    Outside of the CPU complex, Qualcomm achieves as good if not better PPA than any other vendor on the same process with their custom ISP/DSP, GPU and uncore all while integrating as many or more disciplines like modem (and WiFi + Bluetooth now) onto a single chip. AX SoCs not a sporting a modem (a very very hard block to do at low power) allows them to use this extra die area for bigger CPU/GPU and caches; that the CPU core complex moved from a 3 level cache hierarchy to 2 level with much bigger sizes starting with the A11 helped them tremendously as well.
  • Wereweeb - Saturday, July 3, 2021 - link

    If Qualcomm wants to have the best ARM SoC's, they also need a completely closed ecossystem with proprietary everything so that they make up for the lower hardware sale margins that come with using the most expensive silicon and completely ignoring PPA in favour of ultimate performance. Oh, and a brainless cult willing to finance all of that and surrender technological diversity and competition in favour of a monopoly by a Friendly Evil Megacorporation.

    Doubt that will work in any market other than America tho.

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