Qualcomm hints at cloud move

Mobile chip maker sets out cloud-based vision at CES

Steve Mollenkopf, the soon-to-be CEO of Qualcomm, has revealed the smartphone chip manufacturer could be plotting a move into the cloud market.

Qualcomm is amongst a number of organisations that make power-efficient mobile chips seeking to take Intel’s crown in the data centre market.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Mollenkopf said: “I think there's going to be a tremendous amount of growth in computing and resources dedicated to supporting the cloud.

“We look at that as an opportunity for a company like ours.”

While Mollenkopf said Qualcomm had no specific microserver products to announce, the organisation did unveil new chips for use in cars and smart televisions.

This is not the first time Qualcomm has talked up cloud computing. In May 2013, senior vice president and CIO Norm Fjeldheim revealed how the company has been using NetSuite’s cloud in its own operations.

Furthermore, in March 2013, the company teamed up with online medical site WebMD to provide a cloud-based system that allows customers to upload biometric data from wireless home medical devices that can be shared with healthcare providers. This collaboration was based on the chip maker’s existing cloud platform 2net.

However, Adrian O’Connell, research director at market analyst Gartner, told Cloud Pro Mollenkopf's strategy is far from a dead cert in terms of successful diversification.

“We have seen the rise of internet companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, who will always be interested in driving down energy consumption in their data centres, as this is virtually the only overhead they have.

“Due to their size, they also have the flexibility to experiment with things like this, but for the standard business this may not be possible,” said O’Connell.

The analyst pointed to the fact most data centre technology has been driven by the x86 architecture until this point and implementing a solution like that hinted at by Qualcomm could be difficult due to the possible need to rewrite apps.

Furthermore, O’Connell pointed to Calxeda, a company geared towards providing low energy consumption servers like those proposed by Qualcomm, which recently announced it is undergoing restructuring and is widely expected to cease trading.

“A lot of this technology is theoretical at the moment and it is not clear that there is definitively going to be a saving here,” he concluded.

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