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Qualcomm to buy Nuvia for $1.4 billion

Qualcomm's $1.4 billion acquisition of Nuvia would bring a top-notch silicon design team to the mobile chipmaker. Qualcomm did not say when it expects to close the deal.

Qualcomm plans to acquire startup Nuvia for $1.4 billion, a move to bring more of its chip design in-house.

Qualcomm announced the move Wednesday, saying it would use 2-year-old Nuvia's designs in chips that power a wide range of products. They include smartphones, laptops, extended reality devices and network equipment.

Nuvia, founded by three former Apple executives, designs Arm-based CPU cores. Simultaneously, Qualcomm licenses cores from Arm Ltd. for its Snapdragon line. By buying Nuvia, Qualcomm gains control over CPU design while lessening its dependence on Arm, which rival Nvidia plans to acquire. The move also makes Qualcomm a more formidable competitor to Intel, AMD and Apple.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said Qualcomm could use Nuvia to customize its chip designs for better performance.

"Qualcomm has rapidly expanded its market footprint into automotive, personal computers and edge infrastructure, where you need a higher-performance CPU," he said.

Analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates said reducing dependence on Arm is essential for Qualcomm to reduce its technology ties to a competitor. Nvidia announced it was purchasing Arm in September, and is waiting for regulatory approval.

In announcing the deal, Qualcomm said the acquisition is in line with technology trends.

"5G, the convergence of computing and mobile architectures and the expansion of mobile technologies into other industries are significant opportunities for Qualcomm," Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Qualcomm said Nuvia's founders -- John Bruno, Manu Gulati and CEO Gerard Williams III -- and its employees will join the company. Williams was previously Apple's chief CPU architect and spent more than a decade at Arm before that. Gulati and Bruno are both Apple and Google veterans.

The chip industry has seen seismic changes of late. Last summer, Apple announced that future Macs will run on processors developed in-house, ending its longtime use of Intel's offerings. In November, AMD announced it will acquire high-performance computing company Xilinx. On Wednesday, Intel announced CEO Bob Swan was stepping down, and it would replace him with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering end-user computing topics such as desktop management. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and The Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in Central Massachusetts and Southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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