Qualcomm could have best laptop chip on the market next year, says chief

The company will also "go big in China" to compensate for the loss of business providing modems to Apple.

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon believes the company can have the best laptop chip on the market by next year.
  • The company is planning to leverage its acquisition of Nuvia and 5G for mobile computing.
  • He also says that China and the gap left by Huawei will help compensate for the loss of business when Apple brings its modem design in-house.

Qualcomm's chief Cristiano Amon has told Reuters he believes the company could have the best laptop chip on the market by next year, as the company seeks to rival Apple silicon and devices like the M1 MacBook Pro and M1 MacBook Air.

From an interview published Friday:

Qualcomm Inc's new chief thinks that by next year his company will have just the chip for laptop makers wondering how they can compete with Apple Inc, which last year introduced laptops using a custom-designed central processor chip that boasts longer battery life. Longtime processor suppliers Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices have no chips as energy efficient as Apple's. 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.

Amon says that Qualcomm's plan will draw on the lessons learned in the smartphone market, where it has seen the need to provide not only modems for connectivity, but also CPUs as well. The company plans to pair its own modems with its own custom-design CPUs, rather than licensing tech from Arm as it has done previously. It also plans to rely heavily on Nuvia, a startup it acquired in 2021 for $1.4 billion, which boasts former Apple engineers who have worked on Apple's own laptop chips.

Amon also noted Qualcomm's handset business and plans to grow revenue in Android and particularly China, to compensate for the expected move of Apple's modem designs to in-house in the near future. An analyst told Reuters:

"The biggest overhang for Qualcomm's long-term stock multiple is the worry that right now, it's as good as it gets, because they're shipping into all the iPhones, but someday, Apple will do those chips internally"

Amon said that the gap in the Android market left by Huawei would help, stating that the "premium tier alone" was "as big as the Apple opportunity for us."

The news is interesting because it means that Apple will be competing for mobile computing dominance not just with heavyweights AMD and Intel, but also Qualcomm for a slice of the market. Apple's M1 chip delivers huge performance boosts over previous Intel Mac offerings, debuting most recently in the new iMac (2021). Apple is expected to debut new Apple silicon later this year inside a new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro,. According to Bloomberg the new chips will have 10-cores, supporting up to 64GB of RAM and either 16 or 32 graphics cores. If Apple's CPU designs continue to accelerate at this rate Qualcomm will have plenty of catching up to do.

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