Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Sunday, July 22, 2018
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Report: Qualcomm Dropping ARM Server Chips 

ARM Holding’s efforts to break Intel Corp.’s grip on the server chip market and dominance in the datacenter has apparently taken another hit with a report that Qualcomm Inc. is dropping its effort to offer processors for datacenter servers based on an ARM design.

Qualcomm, which recently fended off a takeover bid by Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ: AVGO) after the Trump administration intervened on national security grounds, is exploring whether to end its ARM-based server chip effort, according to a report this week by Bloomberg Business.

The San Diego-based mobile phone chip maker (NASDAQ: QCOM) is among the largest supporters of efforts to help ARM make headway in the profitable server processor market long dominated by Intel (NASDAQ: INTC).

Qualcomm’s datacenter subsidiary announced the first commercial shipments of its ARM-based Centriq 2400 server processor in November. The processor is aimed at cloud-native applications and other workloads developed as microservices and then scaled out in datacenters.

Qualcomm’s efforts to take on x86 processors in datacenters run by hyperscale operator like Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) dates back as far as 2014 when it embraced ARM’s service chip designs.

The company previously touted its ARM-based design as “competitive” with Intel’s Xeon server chip performance while delivering lower energy consumption. The Centriq 2400 uses a chip-manufacturing process that fabricates transistor feature sizes measured at 10 nanometers.

Qualcomm declined to comment on the report. However, Bloomberg reported this week that the company told analysts last month it was looking to cut spending on non-core products.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Wednesday (May 9) that Qualcomm's board approved a new $10 billion stock buyback plan.

--Editor's note: This story has been updated.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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