Qualcomm will beat M2 chips, claims CEO, with former Apple engineers

Qualcomm will beat M2 chips in the laptop and desktop PC sector, claims the company’s CEO, thanks to expertise from three former Apple Silicon engineers.

It’s a claim we’ve heard before, of course, from both Qualcomm and Intel in relation to the M1 chip …


When it became clear just how revolutionary Apple’s M1 chip was in terms of both performance and power efficiency, both Qualcomm and Intel were undoubtedly shocked. It had been obvious all along that Apple was working on something that could compete with Intel’s best chips, but neither company had expected it to succeed so dramatically with its first-generation Mac processor.

Both companies had to put a brave face on it, of course, claiming that they would not only catch up with Apple, but also overtake it.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was under the delusional impression that the company could win back Apple’s business.

“Apple decided they could do a better chip themselves than we could,” Gelsinger said during an interview for Axios on HBO. “And, you know, they did a pretty good job.”

“So what I have to do is create a better chip than they can do themselves. I would hope to win back this piece of their business, as well as many other pieces of business, over time.”

Qualcomm seemed equally bullish on the mobile chip side.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon told Reuters on Thursday he believes his company can have the best chip on the market, with help from a team of chip architects who formerly worked on the Apple chip but now work at Qualcomm.

The Nuvia controversy

A controversial sequence of events did indeed give Qualcomm access to some very senior Apple Silicon engineers.

Former A-series chip lead Gerard Williams and two other former Apple chip execs left the company in 2019 to create a new chip company, Nuvia. The trio said at the time that they were planning to compete with Intel and AMD.

Apple didn’t believe them, and said their true intention was to force Apple to acquire the company, effectively buying back its own tech.

That dispute was still unresolved when there was a fresh development earlier this year: Qualcomm bought Nuvia for $1.4 billion. That gave the chipmaker access to much of the expertise behind the development of Apple’s M1 chip.

Qualcomm will beat M2 chips, says CEO

CEO Cristiano Amon told CNET that the company now believed it could beat Apple in the PC market too.

“We’re aiming to have performance leadership in PC on the CPU, period,” Amon said in an interview last week.

Amon said he’s thankful to Apple for driving the development of programs that work on Arm and noted that Microsoft’s also on this journey. “The timing is now because you needed a perfect alignment of stars,” he said.

He’s banking on Nuvia to give him an edge.

Amon also claimed not to be concerned at the loss of Apple’s modem business.

Potentially impacting Qualcomm is the loss of one of its biggest customers, Apple. The iPhone maker is reportedly working on its own modem to pair with its custom A-series processors. Qualcomm laid out guidance last year that by 2023, its share of modems powering Apple devices would drop to 20%, and single digits after that.

But Amon said Qualcomm is still seeing growth at the company, and whether Apple is ready to use its own modem isn’t up to him. “They know our number, they know where to find us,” he said.

Photo: Jason Leung/Unsplash

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