Qualcomm signals its PC push will coincide with back to school sales and be tied to a Windows launch

Homebrew Elite X SoC due midyear to move from PCs to IoT and cars

Qualcomm's attempt to grab a slab of the PC CPU market will commence in earnest in the middle of 2024, the mobile chip shop's president and CEO Cristiano Amon told investors on Wednesday.

Speaking on the Q1 2024 earnings call, Amon revealed that Snapdragon X Elite SoC – launched last year with a promise of long battery life and enough power to run AI workloads at speeds that scare Intel and Apple – will debut in "mid-2024."

"We're tracking to the launch of products with this chipset tied with the next version of Microsoft Windows that has a lot of the Windows AI capabilities," Amon told investors, adding: "We're still maintaining the same date, which is driven by Windows, which is mid-2024, getting ready for back-to-school."

Microsoft is yet to indicate definitively that it has an AI-centric Windows launch planned, although hints and rumors are easy to find as the software giant adds Copilot to its portfolio – and advises developers how to port their apps to Arm-based CPUs.

Whatever Redmond decides to do, schools across North America and Europe resume from summer breaks in August or September. PCs packing the X Elite will need to be on retail shelves at least a few weeks earlier, so that parents can consider the devices.

Amon seemed confident there will be plenty of models to chose from, declaring himself "pleased that our design win traction continues to increase since the platform was announced last October."

The X Elite includes the Oryon processor and the custom Arm-compatible cores Qualcomm created for the platform, using smarts it acquired along with Nuvia.

"We like that everybody is now talking about on-device AI on PC," Amon noted. "We expect Snapdragon X Elite to set the industry benchmark for on-device gen AI and Copilot experiences in addition to leading performance and battery life for next-generation Windows PCs."


Amon also talked up Qualcomm's results, which saw $9.94 billion of revenue for the quarter – up five percent year-over-year. Net income rose 24 percent, to $2.77 billion. Sales of kit used in handsets popped 16 percent and automotive revenue accelerated by 31 percent, but IoT revenue dipped 32 percent.

The IoT slump was blamed on "industry-wide challenges" that mean there's plenty of inventory for manufacturers to draw from.

The automotive result was pinned to 75 cars that used Qualcomm silicon during 2023 – with what Amon called "a significant improvement in silicon content as it relates to those immersive cockpits and in many cases, processing for safety."

Qualcomm wasn't granted a license to sell 5G kit to Huawei, and the Chinese giant made its own 5G silicon to fill the gap (and compete elsewhere). Asked if that's hurt Qualcomm, CFO Akash Palkhiwala explained that in China, and elsewhere, he sees a growing market to target.

Amon predicted happy days ahead for Qualcomm's mobile business, based on the performance of its SoCs for AI – as demonstrated by the well-received launch of Samsung's Galaxy S24 range – the looming debut of custom silicon for handset-makers, and demand from makers of premium devices.

Elite X tech is part of that plan to satisfy smartphone manufacturers, and Amon predicted Qualcomm will also bring that IP to its IoT range. Elite X will hit the road in automotive devices, too.

Execs predicted Q2 revenue of between $8.9 and $9.7 billion, with possible dips for Qualcomm's modem business attributed to seasonal factors rather than anything scary.

"We're focused on what we can control, busy at work with the growth and diversification of the company," Amon concluded.

But if that diversification includes servers – as Qualcomm explored in the late 20-teens – the topic wasn't mentioned either on its earnings call or in accompanying documentation. ®

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