New Qualcomm CEO’s speech on semiconductor situation, Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm

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Cristiano Amon says conditions are going to change by the end of 2021

Cristiano Amon, the 50-year-old Brazilian President of Qualcomm, will be the fourth CEO in the 36-year history of the tech company this June. He recently gave a wide-ranging interview on the state of the market, from chip shortages to Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm. Here are some of the highlights of this.

Speaking to CNET, Amon did not skim about the severity of the issues posed by the world’s current shortage of processors. “If you asked me, ‘What’s going to hold me awake at night?’ right now [it’s] the supply chain problem we’re going through in the semiconductor industry,” he said.

Qualcomm depends on companies like TSMC and Samsung to manufacture most of its processors. While it could be easy, it still carries with it its own range of issues: Samsung is still in the process of bringing its Austin, Texas plant back to full production levels after bad weather had it shut down temporarily. The factory produces chips for its own LSI division, Tesla, and Qualcomm.

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When asked if Qualcomm would ever develop its own fabs for the production of the Snapdragon SoC, Amon said: “We’re very good at developing chips, and we’re very good at applying technology at a very rapid rate of innovation… The manufacture of semiconductors is a certain kind of skill.”

We realise that everything from automotive to PC hardware and game consoles has been affected by global semiconductor shortages. Reports say that it should have lasted long in 2022, but Amon is more hopeful.

“This is going to get better as we get to the end of 2021,” he said. “But the importance of this is to call attention and make sure that we have … [a] robust supply chain, and investments are made … across a number of technologies.”

Amon further stressed the value of Arm being autonomous. Qualcomm is one of the firms who openly protested Nvidia’s $40 billion takeover of the UK chip designer and encouraged authorities to look further into the antitrust ramifications of the acquisition. Qualcomm is concerned that Nvidia will be able to retain crucial portions of Arm’s intellectual property.

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“The strength of the Arm roadmap is its independence,” Amon said. “Nvidia does not need to buy Arm to do what they said they’re going to do.” He believes Nvidia doesn’t need to buy Arm to compete with Intel’s x86 architecture.

“The Arm ecosystems thrives … and creates incredible competition across the globe because it’s independent,” Amon added.

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