Google officials reportedly are getting ready to throw their support behind Qualcomm's efforts to bring ARM-based 64-bit processors to data center servers.
Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that Google executives at an investor event next week will commit the giant tech vendor to using the upcoming Qualcomm systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) if they meet particular performance metrics. The two companies reportedly have already worked together on designs for the chips.
The support of Google would be a boon to Qualcomm. The search giant runs massive data centers around the world, and buys up to 300,000 server processors every quarter. Google, like other hyperscale companies like Facebook and Amazon, builds many of its own servers to help drive down capital and operating costs. Its data centers are filled with small servers running huge numbers of small workloads, putting as much importance on power efficiency as on performance.
Officials with ARM and some of its chip-making partners, including Applied Micro, Cavium and long-time Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices, see this demand as an opportunity to break into a data center chip space dominated by Intel, which owns more than 98 percent of the market. Officials with Qualcomm—the world's largest mobile chip maker—in October said the company was sampling its 24-core server SoCs with some top-tier data centers. Last month the company announced it was creating a joint venture in China that will design, build and sell Qualcomm server chips.
Qualcomm officials have declined to comment on the report.
Industry analysts have said that businesses are looking for a second provider of processors to help drive innovation, lower prices and protect them against problems that may arise in Intel's supply chain.
However, Intel is responding to the challenge. It has driven down the power consumption in its low-power Atom processors over the past few years while improving on the performance. In addition, the company last year launched the 14-nanometer Xeon D, the first low-power SoC in the Xeon server chip family, which is aimed at hyperscale environments as well as cloud and service providers.
Servers and other data center systems offer Qualcomm a growth area to offset growing challenges in the smartphone and tablets spaces. Intel has been relying heavily on its Data Center Group to drive revenue as the PC market continues to contract.