Qualcomm to buy Nuvia for $1.4b, with an eye toward next-gen computing

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Qualcomm Technologies has agreed to buy high-performance silicon start-up Nuvia for about $1.4 billion, in a move that Qualcomm says will deliver “step-function improvements in CPU performance and power efficiency to meet the demands of next-generation 5G computing.”

Qualcomm has big plans for Nuvia’s CPUs, saying that they will be integrated across its portfolio to power flagship smartphones, next-generation laptops, digital cockpits, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), extended reality and infrastructure networking solutions.

“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,” Qualcomm said.

Cristian Amon, Qualcomm’s incoming president and CEO, tweeted that the company is “a world-class CPU and high-performance SoC design team & together we’ll redefine computing and drive innovation for the 5G era!”

Nuvia tweeted in response that it is “looking forward to combining our talent, technology and know-how with @Qualcomm to create a new class of high-performance computing platforms.”

Silicon Valley-based Nuvia is venture-capital-backed and was co-founded by a leadership team that came from Apple and Google. Nuvia’s VP of Engineering Syrus Ziai also held a VP of engineering role at Qualcomm between 2015-2016, according to his LinkedIn page. It’s a young company for such a hefty price tag: Nuvia was founded in February 2019. The company closed on a Series B funding round in late September 2020 that raised $240 million to support its efforts to bring its Orion SoC to market to serve data centers’ need for increasingly high-performance compute.

In the announcement of the acquisition, as in Amon’s tweet, Qualcomm emphasized both the tech and the human expertise that the acquisition will bring into its fold. Nuvia, Qualcomm said, is comprised of a “proven world-class CPU and technology design team, with industry-leading expertise in high performance processors, Systems on a Chip and power management for compute-intensive devices and applications.” Nuvia founders Gerard Williams III, Manu Gulati and John Bruno, and their employees will be joining Qualcomm.

“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,” said Williams, who is CEO of Nuvia.

“5G, the convergence of computing and mobile architectures, and the expansion of mobile technologies into other industries are significant opportunities for Qualcomm,” said Amon in a statement. “The Nuvia team are proven innovators, and like Qualcomm, have a strong heritage in creating leading technology and products. 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.”

Qualcomm CTO Jim Thompson said that “adding Nuvia’s deep understanding of high-performance design and integrating NUVIA CPUs with Snapdragon — together with our industry-leading graphics and AI — will take computing performance to a new level and drive new capabilities for products that serve multiple industries.” 

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