Qualcomm is taking the wraps off its two-year effort to build computer server chips, challenging Intel’s stronghold in the fast growing datacenter market.
The smartphone semiconductor giant said Wednesday that its new server chip, called Centriq 2400, is now being tested with key customers and is expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2017.
Qualcomm’s foray into server chips is a potential threat to Intel’s most profitable business, highlighting how the two rivals are increasingly squaring off in the core markets that each dominate.
This fall, Intel won a cellular modem slot in some Apple iPhone 7 models, displacing Qualcomm on AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s networks.
It was Intel’s first significant win in mobile, lending credibility to its long-sought smartphone ambitions. Qualcomm retained Apple’s cellular business on Verizon and Sprint in the U.S., as well as in China.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm announced two years ago that it had started work on chips for the datacenter — office buildings full of connected computer servers that power the Internet cloud, big data analytics and other things. Qualcomm tapped its expertise in low-power, system-on-a-chip designs from mobile to give server makers an alternative to Intel.
Qualcomm said Wednesday that its new server chip – based on architecture licensed from ARM Holdings -- has multiple processing cores. It’s being manufactured using the most advanced semiconductor process technology.
“Qualcomm is really going to set the bar for ARM server chips,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. ”It is a huge company. You know they are going to stay in it. You know they have the resources to compete.”
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