ARM power Qualcomm finally bids on server market

ARM processors have long been moving into servers, but top ARM vendor Qualcomm had avoided the market... until now.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

ARM servers, with their low power requirements, have long been moving into server rooms and even are starting to march into the data center. While many ARM vendors — such as Applied Micro Circuits, Advanced Micro Devices and Cavium — have been pushing this trend, one major ARM manufacturer, Qualcomm with its Snapdragon designs, had stayed out of the server market. Until today.

According to various news reports, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has announced that the company would soon be offering ARM server CPUs.

During this analyst day announcement, Qualcomm did not answer such fundamental questions as: How many cores, how fast, how much, and when? We'll need to wait on those answers. 

The only "specific" Mollenkopf would offer is the simple fact that Qualcomm is developing low-power chips for the data center. With Qualcomm's revenue only growing 6.5 percent in fiscal 2014 — which is much lower than its previous growth rates of approximately 30 percent — it can be presumed that Qualcomm's executives felt the company needed to break out of its mobile market into the growing data center and server markets.

While the data center may not be as sexy as smartphones and tablets, the growth of the cloud is increasing the demand for high-end, but inexpensive, servers. This, in turn, is giving the ARM vendors a chance to take on traditional data center chip powerhouse Intel. It will be interesting to see how Qualcomm's move into this space influences this increasingly important market.

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