The Stack Archive News Article

Qualcomm data centre dreams will soon be a distant memory

Thu 13 Dec 2018

Semiconductor company axes 269 US staff and rolls back Centriq arm processor production

Qualcomm has confirmed reports in The Information that it is to cut 269 jobs between its offices in San Diego and Raleigh, US, as its data centre hopes continue to wither. The cuts are the latest in a series announced this year, taking the firm’s total workforce down to just 50, since it dismissed 1,500 employees in April.

“Qualcomm is reducing our investments in the data centre business but remains committed to business obligations and upcoming compute opportunities at the edge of 5G networks and AI inference cloud solutions” said Qualcomm.

“Qualcomm plans to continue supporting the HXT server joint venture in China. We are fully focused on executing on our 5G program.”

Intel and AMD breathe a sigh of relief

There’s no question that Qualcomm’s data centre ambitions were ambitious from the outset. The hardware firm, buoyed by its success supplying Snapdragon smartphone processors, spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to break Intel and AMD’s dominance over the data centre.

Its grand plan was to fill major cloud provider data centres with its own Centriq Arm-based CPUs. Launched in November last year, Centriq is a 64-bit 48-core processor built for handling workloads typically handled by cloud providers.

Centriq was well received and certainly packed a punch, and it also seemed Qualcomm had nailed its timing by releasing Centriq at a time when the major cloud providers were looking to reduce their reliance on Intel Xeon microprocessors. But keeping the data centre business running has evidently proven too costly – news that is no doubt music to the ears of Intel and AMD.

While Qualcomm has not yet called time on its data centre ambitions, you can expect it’s only a matter of time before it completely refocuses on the consumer smartphone market. News of the layoffs came in the same week that Qualcomm launched its new Snapdragon 855 chipset at the annual Snapdragon Summit in Maui.

“Qualcomm conducted a small reduction of our full-time and temporary workforce in certain areas of the company. While this activity impacts a very small percentage of our workforce, we know a workforce reduction of any size affects not only those employees who are part of the reduction, but their families, co-workers and the community,” a Qualcomm spokesperson said.


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