Qualcomm buys unicorn chip designer for $1.4bn

14 Jan 2021

Image: © MichaelVi/Stock.adobe.com

Nuvia was founded just two years ago by former Apple chip engineers and has since raised almost $300m in funding.

After growing from an idea to a unicorn company in just two years, high-performance computing start-up Nuvia is set to be acquired by Qualcomm for $1.4bn.

The start-up, which was founded by former Apple chip engineers, has raised close to $300m. Most of this was from a recent Series B round led by Mithril, where it raised $240m.

Semiconductor and telecoms equipment manufacturer Qualcomm announced the acquisition yesterday (13 January). The company expects to use Nuvia central processing units in everything from smartphone chips to automotive components.

This billion-dollar acquisition also adds to Qualcomm’s investment in the area of 5G. In September 2019, the company agreed to purchase the remaining interest in RF360 Holdings, a joint venture with TDK Corporation which produced RF front-end (RFFE) filters that enabled Qualcomm to deliver 4G and 5G RFFE solutions.

The $3.1bn deal was seen as “a significant milestone” in Qualcomm’s 5G strategy, enabling the company to bring the project in-house and provide customers with a complete end-to-end solution.

‘Redefine computing’

With the acquisition of Nuvia, Qualcomm plans to build on its Snapdragon technology, delivering step-function improvements in CPU performance and power efficiency to meet the demands of next-generation 5G computing.

Cristiano Amon, president and CEO-elect of Qualcomm, said the Nuvia team has strong experience in creating leading technology and products.

“Together, we are very well positioned to redefine computing and enable our ecosystem of partners to drive innovation and deliver a new class of products and experiences for the 5G era,” he said.

Qualcomm’s chief technology officer, Jim Thompson, added that Nuvia’s deep understanding of high-performance design “will take computing performance to a new level and drive new capabilities for products that serve multiple industries”.

As part of the transaction, Nuvia’s founders and employees will be joining Qualcomm.

Nuvia CEO Gerard Williams said the combination of the two companies will “bring the industry’s best engineering talent, technology and resources together to create a new class of high-performance computing platforms”.

“CPU performance leadership will be critical in defining and delivering on the next era of computing innovation,” he added.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic