Qualcomm could be returning to the server market

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The server market may be about to see a major shake-up following reports that Qualcomm is considering a return to the fold after several years away.

Sources have told Bloomberg that the San Diego-based firm, best known for its Snapdragon smartphone processors, is set to take on the likes of Intel and AMD for a slice of the billion-dollar market.

Qualcomm has reportedly already signed up Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a potential customer, the sources said, in what would be a huge coup for the company.

Qualcomm servers

Qualcomm has so far refused to comment on Bloomberg’s story, the move had been rumored for some time following its $1.4 billion purchase of chip startup Nuvia back in January 2021. 

Nuvia, which was founded by two former senior Apple engineers who were part of the team that had worked on the custom ARM CPU development for the latest MacBooks and iPhones, specializes in building high performance, low-power processors - ideal for servers.

Qualcomm quit the server business in 2018 following a tumultuous period for the company. 

It had begun selling the Centriq 2400, an Arm-based server chip in November 2017, but despite gaining interest from several big-name customers, was forced to halt sales following the departure of a key executive, as well as looking to focus on its smartphone business.

Qualcomm's possible entry into the lucrative server market comes at an intriguing time, as traditional industry heavyweights battle with ambitious start-ups and smaller players.

Although Intel has led the way for some time, recent figures suggest AMD is making strong ground in the market, with the company marking a 13th consecutive period of growth. 

Intel's next-generation processors, codenamed Sapphire Rapids, have suffered multiple delays - originally scheduled to launch in 2021, the new server chips are now expected to come to market some time in Q1 2023.

Nvidia is also reportedly set to make a big push into the server market, with Arm's new Neoverse platform causing waves throughout the industry in a challenge to Intel's x86 architecture.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.