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Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) these days printed a new AI chipset, the Cloud AI a hundred, for cloud records middle servers. The enterprise claims that the chip could be over 50 instances extra powerful than its accurate-conclusion Snapdragon 855 cellular chipset, and may be optimized for making choices based on voice and graphic cognizance.
Qualcomm will exhibit greater details earlier than it sends out the primary samples later this 12 months, and should launch the chips commercially in 2020. This seems like a means for Qualcomm to diversify its company faraway from smartphones, but traders should still recall that it already tried -- and failed -- to crack the facts core market earlier than.
Two IT professionals walk via a knowledge core.
picture supply: Getty images.
In late 2017, Qualcomm launched its Centriq information middle chips. The initial benchmarks indicated that the ARM-primarily based chips may well be potential options to Intel's normal (NASDAQ: INTC) Xeon CPUs, and tech giants like Microsoft all started testing Qualcomm's chips in its data facilities. It also offered chips for a server three way partnership in China.
For a long time, it appeared like Qualcomm might dent Intel's close-monopoly in statistics middle CPUs. however final may additionally Qualcomm's data middle applied sciences chief Anand Chandrasekher, who in the past worked at Intel, suddenly resigned.
a couple of rounds of layoffs in consequence reduced the measurement of the facts middle unit from 1,000 employees to about 50 via the end of 2018. Qualcomm insisted that its records core enterprise wasn't dead yet, but it certainly seemed like a failed scan.
Qualcomm's statistics middle business flopped for three standard causes: Intel's Xeons have been nonetheless the trade common for servers, AMD's Epyc chips were considered more desirable options (given that they used the same x86 structure as Xeons in its place of the Centriq's ARM structure), and Broadcom's opposed takeover attempt pressured Qualcomm to cut fees from non-core initiatives like information center chips.
a few parties -- including ARM's parent business SoftBank, Singapore's Temasek Holdings, former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, and former Intel executive Renee James -- all regarded buying Qualcomm's statistics core unit. however, none of those talks panned out, and the unit appeared destined to wither away.
Servers in an information middle.
image source: Getty images.
The Centriq chip's harsh trajectory can also no longer always be repeated. the important thing difference between the Cloud AI a hundred and the Centriq is that it be a discrete AI accelerator instead of a CPU geared toward changing Xeons. AI accelerators -- which encompass GPUs, FPGAs (container-programmable gate arrays), and custom ASICs (utility-selected built-in circuits) -- are add-in boards that work alongside CPUs.
AI accelerators can be utilized to particular AI tasks. NVIDIA's (NASDAQ: NVDA) GPUs, for instance, can velocity up deep learning calculations at records facilities. Programmable chips like Intel or Xilinx's FPGAs will also be personalized for certain AI initiatives, while ASICs are created for selected projects however can not be reprogrammed.
Qualcomm hasn't published tons in regards to the Cloud AI one hundred's design, but AnandTech referred to that the accelerator's committed focal point on AI "inference" initiatives like voice and image processing means that it can be an ASIC accelerator.
records center purchasers will seemingly stick to one classification of accelerator in its place of purchasing all three, so Qualcomm should be competing towards NVIDIA, Intel, Xilinx, and even Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google during this market. Google's TPUs (tensor processing devices), which were launched three years in the past, are arguably essentially the most regularly occurring ASIC accelerators.
Launching an AI accelerator as a substitute of a further CPU is a wise circulate, considering here's nevertheless a nascent market with numerous room for boom. analysis and Markets estimates that the world records center accelerator market will grow from $ billion in 2018 to $ billion via 2023.
The market additionally looks undecided related to the usage of GPUs, FPGAs, ASICs, or extra potent CPUs for AI acceleration projects. for this reason, Qualcomm's Cloud AI one hundred probably won't immediately trigger problems for the Centriq. If it's a hit, it might diversify Qualcomm's business faraway from its cellular enterprise, which faces slow smartphone sales, competition from rival chipmakers, and ongoing proceedings and probes over its licensing fees.
besides the fact that children, Qualcomm will likely deserve to stick with this mission for years before it bears fruit. If Qualcomm doesn't in advance starve this company, because it did with the Centriq, it may eventually diversify its business and widen its moat towards Intel and NVIDIA.
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Suzanne Frey, an govt at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley idiot's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley idiot's board of directors. Leo solar has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley idiot owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Microsoft, and NVIDIA. The Motley fool owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley idiot recommends Broadcom Ltd and Xilinx. The Motley fool has a disclosure policy.