Just days after Qualcomm’s president went on record to deny the rumors that the company was curtailing its work on server CPUs, it has been reported that this is exactly what Qualcomm is doing.
Sources have told Bloomberg that the company would be cutting around 280 jobs - between 30 and 50 percent of the workforce employed by its data center chip unit.
Qualcomm, the world’s largest smartphone chip supplier, entered the market at the end of 2017, with the launch of its first server CPU, the Centriq 2400 – an Arm-based chip with up to 48 cores, manufactured on a 10nm process.
The same report suggested that Qualcomm will remain part of the joint venture with the government of the Guizhou province in southwest China, dedicated to development of Arm-based server chips for the domestic market.
The Centriq 2400 launched with a list price under $2,000, which the company claimed gave it a more than 4x better performance per dollar and up to 45 percent better performance per watt than Intel’s highest-performance Skylake processor, the Intel Xeon Platinum 818.
Centriq is one of a small number of server CPUs based on cores developed by Arm, with the only viable alternatives being Cavium’s ThunderX2 and AMD’s Opteron A1100.
The chip got a warm reception from industry giants including Alibaba, Cloudflare, HPE, Microsoft, Red Hat and Xilinx, with Google reportedly testing it in its own data centers. Turns out the efforts might have been wasted.
In May, Bloomberg reported that Qualcomm was considering giving up on Arm-based CPUs for the data center market. The company made no reference to the chip in its latest earnings call; at the same time CEO Steven Mollenkopf reiterated the company’s commitment to reducing costs by $1 billion, partially with “spending reductions in our non-core product areas.”
Earlier this week, Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, told Reuters that the company would be making staff reductions, but that it remained committed to the data center sector. “We are not looking at strategic options. We are not selling. We are still focused on it,” Amon said.
The latest report, once again from Bloomberg, suggests he might not have been entirely honest: according to notices filed in North Carolina and California, the company is looking to eliminate at least 284 jobs – with the sources ‘familiar with the process’ revealing this constitutes up to a half of all the people working on the Centriq project.
The reduction comes on top of about 1,500 previously announced job cuts.