Qualcomm Wants to Become ‘the Nvidia of AI’ on Your Smartphone and Computer

Qualcomm Wants to Become ‘the Nvidia of AI’ on Your Smartphone and Computer

In the vast world of AI and the complex computing infrastructure making these advancements a reality, one company reigns supreme:
Nvidia(NVDA, +3.20%). Known for leading the way in the shift to an AI-fueled computing landscape, Nvidia has asserted its power in the chip market for data centers and servers, delivering the chips to tech giants like Microsoft(MSFT, +1.08%), Amazon.com(AMZN, +1.44%) and Alphabet(GOOGL, +1.59%), which in turn use the chips for cutting-edge AI services.

Nvidia’s grip, however, stops at servers and data centers. As a result, the company is facing off against some stiff competition as it tries to grab a piece of the growing AI market “at the edge” in the coming years. At the edge, which is made up of laptops, smartphones and the myriad of individual consumer and commercial devices that need power, the consumption of AI content is poised to explode.

The Edge AI Arena: A Contested Battlefield

The battle is on as industry stalwarts Intel INTC 3.24%  AMD -0.61% and Qualcomm QCOM 3.15% for chips that can finally bring the computing power of AI to the smartphones and smart devices coalescing around the so-called edge. That, of course, wouldn’t include the same Nvidia NVDA 1.32% whose gaming and mobile graphics chips have scattered the field for the others in the first place. –Jeremy Kahn

Qualcomm's Strategic Advantage in Wireless Technology

Qualcomm is in the unique position of being able to take full advantage of AI at the edge, using its communications background, significant new investments in computer architectures and a software ecosystem initiative that is starting to look a lot like Nvidia's ground-breaking CUDA.

The company's leadership in modems and wireless technologies is often overlooked; the launch of the new Snapdragon X80 5G cellular modem and the FastConnect 7900 chip, with the latest in WiFi, Bluetooth and wideband, is an example of how it's staying ahead in wireless as well. They're products that will go into the very highest-performance smartphones and high-end laptops in the next year.

The Unseen Advantage: Qualcomm's Software Endeavors

If Qualcomm is to replicate Nvidia's data center-to-consumer success within the AI space of consumer and device, then a focus on software is essential. Taking inspiration from Nvidia's CUDA, Qualcomm recently took the wraps off its jaw-dropping toolkit—the AI Hub. It's not just a conduit for on-stage demos and marketing content. Rather, the platform serves as a developer engagement hub, with all devices carrying AI tools and instructions so that crucial models run optimally on Snapdragon hardware. In short, it gives Qualcomm the same in-built advantage that Nvidia has enjoyed with CUDA.

The Qualcomm AI Hub now has over 75 unique AI models ready to be dropped into the toolkit, which supports Snapdragon chips falling inside smartphones, laptops or even cars. As the company put it, "in terms of productivity, this will make sure that people will develop for our hardware first before others."

Hardware Prowess: Qualcomm's Leadership in the Smartphone Market

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon dominates both market share and performance in a cutthroat smartphone market. As the Android application developers race to compute AI, it goes the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and so goes Snapdragon. Add Qualcomm’s launch of its next CPU core architecture dubbed Oryon from its Nuvia acquisition announced earlier this year. Qualcomm should remain the standard for AI-on-a-chip determining your smartphone decision for many years to come.

Following an AI PC explosion in the second half of this year and into 2025, Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite, which was announced back in October 2023, platform has more than four times the AI performance of Intel or AMD chips that are shipping today. Although Qualcomm has essentially no market share in PCs, its strategy alone could change market dynamics dramatically. The first laptops with the chip will hit shelves in June and could be serious game-changers.

The 2024 Battlefield: Qualcomm's Foothold in AI

As we navigate our way through 2024, the battle for both mind share and consumer wallets rages on. Every major consumer technology company—Intel, Nvidia, AMD, Arm Holdings (ARM, +5.36%), startup MemryX, or Rabbit Ears—gunning for its chance to catch the next wave of AI.

Riding on leadership in the smartphone market, a diversified portfolio that extends from PCs to automobiles, and a highly credible software initiative via the Qualcomm AI Hub, Qualcomm seems particularly well positioned. The company’s strategy of focusing on developer adoption in the last frontier of the digital economy has successfully set the stage for a potential change of the chip-guard.

In conclusion, the battle for AI dominance at the edge is heating up in 2024, and Qualcomm has strategically positioned itself to be a formidable player. As the year unfolds, all eyes will be on the twists and turns in this ever-evolving landscape, with Qualcomm at the forefront, ready to shape the future of AI.


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