Qualcomm has announced that it will acquire server chip specialist NuVia for approximately $1.4 billion to bolster its SnapDragon platform.

According to Qualcomm, the acquisition of Nuvia will deliver “step-function improvements in Snapdragon CPU performance and power efficiency to meet the demands of next-generation 5G computing.”

Mobile chip maker Qualcomm has for years faced antitrust questions around its business practices, but in August a US court dismissed an injunction that would have required Qualcomm to change its intellectual property licensing practices, threatening its business model.

NuVia acquisition

Qualcomm said that NuVia has a “proven world-class CPU and technology design team, with industry-leading expertise in high performance processors, Systems on a Chip (SoC) and power management for compute-intensive devices and applications.”

“The addition of NuVia CPUs to Qualcomm Technologies’ already leading mobile graphics processing unit (GPU), AI engine, DSP and dedicated multimedia accelerators will further extend the leadership of Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms, and positions Snapdragon as the preferred platform for the future of connected computing,” said the firm.

NuVia CPUs are expected to be integrated across Qualcomm’ portfolio of products, as well as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, extended reality and infrastructure networking solutions.

“5G, the convergence of computing and mobile architectures, and the expansion of mobile technologies into other industries are significant opportunities for Qualcomm,” said Cristiano Amon, President and CEO-Elect at Qualcomm.

“The NuVia team are proven innovators, and like Qualcomm, have a strong heritage in creating leading technology and products,” said Amon. “I am very excited to have them join our team. Together, we are very well positioned to redefine computing and enable our ecosystem of partners to drive innovation and deliver a new class of products and experiences for the 5G era.”

As part of the transaction, NuVia founders Gerard Williams III, Manu Gulati and John Bruno, and their employees will be joining Qualcomm.

Apple veterans

“CPU performance leadership will be critical in defining and delivering on the next era of computing innovation,” said Gerard Williams CEO of NuVia. “The combination of NuVia and Qualcomm will bring the industry’s best engineering talent, technology and resources together to create a new class of high-performance computing platforms that set the bar for our industry. We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities ahead.”

NuVia was founded by three former top semiconductor executives at Apple who were in charge of iPhone chips.

The startup has been working on a custom CPU core design that it had said would be used in server chips.

Qualcomm however intends a broader use of Nuvia’s processors, saying they would power flagship smartphones, next-generation laptops, infotainment systems and driver-assistance systems among other applications.

What makes the deal noteworthy, is that it could lessen Qualcomm’s reliance on ARM, which is in the process of being acquired by Nvidia for $40 billion.

Currently most of Qualcomm’s processors use computing cores licensed directly from ARM.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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