Qualcomm, the San Diego, California-based semiconductor vendor that dominates the global smartphone chip market, is getting into the server processor business.
The company licenses chip architecture from U.K.’s ARM Holdings. Most of the world’s smartphones are powered by chips built using ARM designs, and Qualcomm is the biggest supplier of these chips.
Because they use less power than x86 processors commonly used in servers ARM chips have become an attractive proposition for the server market, since data center energy use has been an issue of growing importance in the past several years. This interest has spurred an ecosystem of startups and old-guard companies (such as AMD) around ARM chips for servers.
Earlier this year, a company called Applied Micro started shipping the world’s first 64-bit ARM server processor. AMD and Texas Instruments are among other chipmakers with 64-bit ARM parts for servers in the works.
HP started shipping the world’s first off-the-shelf ARM-powered servers in September. A French web hosting company called Online.net Labs (an Iliad subsidiary) launched an Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud built on ARM servers it designed in house in November.
Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkompf announced the company’s server-market ambitions in a meeting with analysts in New York this week, Dow Jones reported.
“We are engaged with customers," the report quoted him as saying about Qualcomm’s nascent server business. “It will take us a while to build this business, but we think it is an interesting opportunity going forward.”
Mollenkompf hinted that the company was well positioned to tackle the server market at CES in Las Vegas in January, Reuters reported.