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Incoming Qualcomm CEO on the semiconductor crisis, Nvidia’s purchase of Arm


What just happened? Cristiano Amon, the 50-year-old Brazilian president of Qualcomm, will become only the fourth CEO in the tech giant’s 36-year history this June. He recently gave a far-reaching interview about the state of the industry, from the chip shortage to Nvidia’s takeover of Arm. Here are some of the highlights.

Speaking to CNET, Amon didn’t gloss over the seriousness of the problems caused by the current worldwide dearth of chips. “If you asked me, ‘what keeps me up at night?’ right now [it] is this supply chain crisis we’re having in the semiconductor industry,” he said.

Qualcomm relies on companies such as TSMC and Samsung to build most of its chips. While that can be convenient, it also brings its own set of issues: Samsung is still in the process of getting its Austin, Texas, plant back to normal production levels after the extreme weather saw it close temporarily. The factory makes chips for its own LSI division, Tesla, and Qualcomm.

When asked if Qualcomm would ever build its own fabs to produce the Snapdragon SoC, Amon said: “We’re very good at designing chips, and we’re very good at implementing technologies for a very fast pace of innovation … Manufacturing of semiconductors is a whole different expertise.”

We know that everything from the automotive industry to PC hardware and gaming consoles have felt the effects of global semiconductor shortage. Reports claim it could last well into 2022, but Amon is more optimistic.

“This is going to get better as we get to the end of 2021,” he said. “But the importance of this is to call attention and make sure that we have … [a] robust supply chain, and investments are made … across a number of technologies.”

Elsewhere, Amon emphasized the importance of Arm remaining independent. Qualcomm is one of several companies to have publicly opposed Nvidia’s $40 billion purchase of the UK chip designer and has urged regulators to look deeper at the deal’s antitrust implications. Qualcomm is anxious that Nvidia could keep vital parts of Arm’s intellectual property.

“The strength of the Arm roadmap is its independence,” Amon said. “Nvidia does not need to buy Arm to do what they said they’re going to do.” He believes Nvidia doesn’t need to buy Arm to compete with Intel’s x86 architecture.

“The Arm ecosystems thrives … and creates incredible competition across the globe because it’s independent,” Amon added.



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