Within the next two years, Qualcomm plans to ship Arm-based CPUs for laptops and mobile devices that will use custom cores developed by Nuvia.
Qualcomm bought the Silicon Valley startup for $1.4 billion back in 2021, and hopes to use its custom cores across its product lines.
What's this got to do with data centers?
The reason DCD is reporting on a consumer chip is because the announcement shows Qualcomm is moving forward with Nuvia cores, despite legal threats from Arm.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm began talking to cloud and data center companies about testing an Arm chip for the server market, which also uses Nuvia cores.
But a month later, Arm sued Qualcomm, seeking an injunction to destroy designs developed under Nuvia’s license agreements with Arm.
The British-based company claims that Qualcomm required its approval to transfer licenses from Nuvia over to Qualcomm. Arm says that it spent “more than a year” trying to negotiate an agreement for Qualcomm’s use of Nuvia’s licenses, but terminated the licenses in February.
Should Arm win the case, it would disrupt the plans for both the desktop and server chips. In a counter filing this week, Arm also threatened to terminate all of Qualcomm's licenses, which could imperil its wider product portfolio.
That's why Qualcomm's announcement of the 'Oryon' consumer chip with Nuvia cores is interesting - it means that it has not paused development in response to the lawsuit.
Former Nuvia CEO Gerard Williams III (now a Qualcomm senior VP) announced the new product line this week at the Snapdragon Summit in Maui. Williams is separately being sued by Apple, which claims he worked on Nuvia's technology while still at the company.
Oryon is still based on Arm's instruction set architecture, but it will not use Neoverse or other Arm-developed cores.
Cloud-focused Arm chip company Ampere also developed its own cores. We spoke to the company's chief product officer about why it made the decision, and what it means for the data center.