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Qualcomm could soon make an emphatic return to datacenters

Qualcomm Building
(Image credit: Jejim / Shutterstock)

Qualcomm could soon be making a return to the datacenter after effectively exiting the industry back in 2018 according to comments made by the company's CEO during a recent earnings call.

CEO Steve Mollenkopf explained to investors during the company's Q4 and full-year earnings call for 2020 that it  is “investing in next-generation infrastructure and edge compute, two areas today that we believe will create significant opportunities in several years”.

As over a billion AI-capable devices currently use Qualcomm's inference technology, the company is in the perfect position “to extend our smartphone AI leadership into growing applications such as data centres, edge appliances and 5G infrastructure”, according to Mollenkopf.

Virtualization will also play a big role in the chip maker's future plans as wireless networks are becoming virtualized as a result of cloud converging with the mobile internet. In the earning call, Mollenkopf pointed to Rakuten and Jio as examples of new service provider models “where infrastructure is intersecting with digital services”.

Return to the data center

Back in December of 2018, Qualcomm made the decision to scale back its efforts to build server CPUs in favor of pursing “opportunities at the edge of 5G networks and AI inference cloud solutions”, according to a company spokesperson who spoke with The Register at the time. Then a year later, the company decided to end a joint venture with China focused on datacenters.

Qualcomm is still pursuing opportunities at the edge but now it appears that its interest in the datacenter has also been renewed. At the moment it is still unclear as to what the company plans to do when it comes to datacenters but The Register believes that Arm's chips will play a big role.

As to Qualcomm's earnings during Q4, the company revealed that it had made $6.5bn in non-GAAP revenue with a net income of $1.67bn. Its hardware business, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT) was responsible for $5bn of its revenue during the quarter, representing 38 percent year-on-year growth.

Licensing also made up a big chunk of Qualcomm's business during Q4 with licensing revenue growing by 30 percent. According to the company, “all major handset OEMs” are under license and 110 agreements have been made to use its 5G technology.

Qualcomm's chips continue to dominate the mobile phone market but a return to the datacenter could give the company an additional boost.

Via The Register