Qualcomm Announces Plans for ‘M-Series Competitive’ PC CPU’s in 2023

Chaim Gartenberg, reporting for The Verge:

The new chip will be designed by the Nuvia team, which Qualcomm had bought earlier this year in a massive $1.4 billion acquisition. Nuvia, notably, was founded in 2019 by a trio of former Apple employees who had previously worked on the company’s A-series chips.

The company is making big promises, too: in addition to offering competition to Apple’s stellar M-series chips (which power its latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops and iMac and Mac Mini desktops), Qualcomm is aiming to lead the field for “sustained performance and battery life,” too. Additionally, Qualcomm promised that it would be scaling up its Adreno GPUs, too, with the goal of offering desktop-class gaming capabilities for its future PC products.

When they debuted, Apple-silicon-powered Macs were these crazy new machines that offered performance-per-watt far above the industry state-of-the-art. One year later, though, with pro-caliber laptops shipping, Apple silicon is the industry state-of-the-art, and everything else is behind. Qualcomm isn’t gunning for Intel or AMD; they’re gunning for Apple, because the M-series is the new benchmark.

Based on mobile chips, however, I have doubts about Qualcomm’s ability to catch up to Apple’s M-series — especially as entire SoCs, including GPUs — any time soon. If Qualcomm hasn’t caught up to Apple in SoCs for phones (ostensibly Qualcomm’s bread and butter) how will they catch up in SoCs for high-end PCs (an area where Qualcomm has never made a dent)? Maybe the answer is the Nuvia acquisition — perhaps Nuvia will be to Qualcomm what PA Semi was for Apple. Or maybe the answer is that it’ll play out like phone chips have, and Qualcomm will never catch up.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021