News Qualcomm announces Nuvia-powered PC chip - competitive with Apple M series

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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We'll have to see what "competitive" means, but nonetheless this is an encouraging development for the personal computing world.
 
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JoeRambo

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Before buyout Nuvia was blabbering about GB5 score of >2000. If they can pull it in 2 years, that will still be quite competitive.
But personally i am a bit sceptical. Apple derives a quite a lot of their performance from tight integration with memory, IO, GPU.
 

nicalandia

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Jan 10, 2019
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Why is Nvidia trying to Buy ARM? They like AMD have a Perpetual License right? They can design their own core and keep it close source just like Apple did, without having to buy the entire company
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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Why is Nvidia trying to Buy ARM? They like AMD have a Perpetual License right? They can design their own core and keep it close source just like Apple did, without having to buy the entire company
Maybe they want the revenue stream, and control of that market.
 

moinmoin

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Jun 1, 2017
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Title says "competitive with Apple M series".

Quoted slide says "Designed to set the performance benchmark for Windows PCs".

If done well these chips will be competition for AMD and especially Intel, not really Apple.

In any case more competition is nice to see. Though Qualcomm easily could have chosen better performing designs as chips for ARM laptops before already, so...
 

Doug S

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Feb 8, 2020
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Before buyout Nuvia was blabbering about GB5 score of >2000. If they can pull it in 2 years, that will still be quite competitive.
But personally i am a bit sceptical. Apple derives a quite a lot of their performance from tight integration with memory, IO, GPU.

Nuvia was originally designing server CPUs so I would assume they would have been planning to use TSMC's high power process like AMD does, and not their lower power/mobile process like Apple. TSMC's HPC cells and other tweaks can offer anywhere from 10-20% performance increase, so one has to view Nuvia's numbers (which was basically a single graph, I don't think Nuvia ever talked about GB5 scores over 2K other than that) in that context. Keep in mind as well when they shared that they were over a year away from tapeout which is why they couldn't nail down the numbers any more closely than that large splooge zone on the graph.

Perhaps Qualcomm's Nuvia team will design a separate core for HPC cells etc. to use on PC targeted SoCs, but I wouldn't count on it. It really depends on how they want to compete with Intel/AMD in the PC market. Do they market on performance? On power efficiency? On cost? As a new entrant into the PC space, they can't attack it from all sides at once, they have to focus their marketing efforts.

HPC cells are faster but something like 30% less dense thus ~50% more expensive per chip, and that combined with having to design a separate core for the HPC process instead of reusing their mobile core like Apple makes the decision for them IMHO. There's also a lot of Windows stuff that's x86 only and will require translation (and they can't get anywhere near Rosetta 2 numbers) which is another checkbox in favor of not trying to compete on raw performance at this time, instead choosing the mobile process as Apple did to compete more on efficiency and cost. If they are successful in breaking into the Windows PC market, that will cause more applications to be ported to ARM and then it would make more sense as a market proven player to do a separate design targeted at the HPC process to go at the competition's high ASP stuff.
 

gdansk

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Feb 8, 2011
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I'm optimistic on this. Especially if they offer some versions for Chromebooks. Could be a massive improvement over current ARM systems.
 

Doug S

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I think you mean library. And no, AMD doesn't use the high performance library. It uses the high density library, just doesn't go for actual dense designs to still allow for high frequencies.
There's the library (6 track vs 7.5 track) for mobile vs HPC cells but my understanding is that TSMC also has some tunables in the process itself that allow for higher performance. But I didn't know that AMD was using 6T cells so maybe they aren't using that either. IIRC they were having less of an effect with each generation (it was up to 10% in N7) so at some point down the road they may no longer be worth the effort, especially if there aren't enough customers for it.
 

NTMBK

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Nov 14, 2011
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There's the library (6 track vs 7.5 track) for mobile vs HPC cells but my understanding is that TSMC also has some tunables in the process itself that allow for higher performance. But I didn't know that AMD was using 6T cells so maybe they aren't using that either. IIRC they were having less of an effect with each generation (it was up to 10% in N7) so at some point down the road they may no longer be worth the effort, especially if there aren't enough customers for it.
AMD are actual going to make both a high density version and a high frequency version of their next CPU- Zen 4c and Zen 4. I believe they're otherwise the same basic design, but using higher density libraries for 4c (though I could be wrong).
 

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
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AMD are actual going to make both a high density version and a high frequency version of their next CPU- Zen 4c and Zen 4. I believe they're otherwise the same basic design, but using higher density libraries for 4c (though I could be wrong).
4c isn't just more dense, but also is modified relative to the default Zen4 architecture.

My take, this is a dog and pony show. Don't know why. Server CPU team developing a mobile processor for Windows based PCs using an ARM 'compatible' design. Kind of sound like "lets throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall till something sticks".
 

Shivansps

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Sep 11, 2013
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In any case more competition is nice to see. Though Qualcomm easily could have chosen better performing designs as chips for ARM laptops before already, so...
To be fair, the software stack was not up to the job until very recently, x86-64 support for ARM Windows is a very recent thing.

Anyway, the fact there is a 5G modem already tells me this is not a laptop chip, it is very likely this chip has small cores in it, a laptop chip cant have something like the A510 in it.
 

Joe NYC

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Jun 26, 2021
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I'm optimistic on this. Especially if they offer some versions for Chromebooks. Could be a massive improvement over current ARM systems.
It seems that Qualcomm is aiming a little higher than Chrome Books. They are aiming for Windows laptops.
 

Doug S

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Does anyone really believe that Qualcomm of all companies won't do everything in their power to normalize 5G in laptops? Offering 5G at cost or even at a moderate loss may be worth it in their calculations if they can create some market momentum behind 5G laptops and get people who buy x86 laptops to start demanding built in 5G. Because it is pretty obvious who a leading supplier of those 5G modems would be.

Maybe that's one reason Qualcomm assured investors today that while they expect to lose 80% of Apple's discrete modem business by the time the 2023 iPhone appears that it won't impact their future growth prospects.

If they expect to lose that much with the 2023 iPhone, then it sounds like they expect the first Apple designed modems to appear with next year's iPhone. If so, maybe Apple starts including 5G in Macs with the M2 or M3 generation...
 
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DrMrLordX

Lifer
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Pretty sure 5G is already very common on WARM laptops.

Anyway

For anyone thinking that Qualcomm would use the Nuvia acquisition to re-enter the ARM server market:

 
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coercitiv

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Jan 24, 2014
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Title says "competitive with Apple M series".

Quoted slide says "Designed to set the performance benchmark for Windows PCs".

If done well these chips will be competition for AMD and especially Intel, not really Apple.
Go to the next line: Leadership in sustained performance and battery life.

Sounds like competition for everyone.
 
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NTMBK

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4c isn't just more dense, but also is modified relative to the default Zen4 architecture.

My take, this is a dog and pony show. Don't know why. Server CPU team developing a mobile processor for Windows based PCs using an ARM 'compatible' design. Kind of sound like "lets throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall till something sticks".
AMD have done very well taking a server CPU architecture (Zen) and integrating it into a laptop SoC.

I think they used the word "compatible" to make clear that this is a custom CPU core, not just an ARM design that they have integrated.
 

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