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Qualcomm’s AI Evolution: Transforming into a Compute Powerhouse – Six Five On The Road at Computex 2024

Qualcomm's AI Evolution Transforming into a Compute Powerhouse - Six Five On The Road at Computex 2024

On this episode of the Six Five On The Road at Computex 2024, hosts Daniel Newman and Ryan Shrout are joined by Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon, President and CEO, for a conversation on how Qualcomm is evolving through AI innovations and diversifying its market approach.

Their discussion covers:

  • Qualcomm’s perspective on AI and its significance for the company’s future
  • Exploring the vast opportunities AI presents to Qualcomm
  • The strategic transition towards becoming a foremost compute company
  • Development milestones of Oryon and its impact on Qualcomm’s growth
  • Forecasting the evolution of AI across devices, from smartphones to PCs, in the next two years
  • Insights into Qualcomm’s market diversification and disruption strategies

Learn more at Qualcomm.

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Transcript:

Daniel Newman: Hey, everyone. The Six Five is here at Computex 2024 in Taiwan. We are doing an exclusive series of conversations with the team at Qualcomm. It’s been a big week for all things AI, all things compute. We’ve talked about lots that comes from the data center to the Edge, to the devices in our hands, but nothing this week has been bigger than the conversations around Copilot+ PC. It’s been a tremendously interesting week hearing from all the companies, but we’re going to hear right now from someone that we love to have on the show, someone that’s been on the show many times before. Cristiano Amon, President, CEO at Qualcomm. He’s back. Cristiano, thanks so much for sitting down with us.

Cristiano Amon: Very good to be here. Good talk to you, Dan and Ryan. That’s great.

Daniel Newman: Different copilot, speaking of…

Cristiano Amon: It’s a Copilot+.

Ryan Shrout: There we go. Make sure we let Pat know that.

Daniel Newman: Hey Pat.

Ryan Shrout: Yeah, thanks for being here. It’s great to talk to you. Obviously everything here this week has been AI, PC, Copilot+ PCs. This is the most excitement that I’ve seen at a Computex event in maybe a decade. I’m curious from just a more generalized AI perspective, how do you view AI in this evolution of computing? How it affects Qualcomm, what kind of opportunities does it provide you as you do this transition?

Cristiano Amon: Look, it is a broad question and I think we’re, I’m very passionate about this. I think the company’s very passionate about this. We think it’s a very significant transition and it’s going to change how we use our computing devices. It’s not only about the PC. I think just Microsoft has done a tremendous job and changing themselves into AI company, and you probably expect them to be leading on the PC, but it’s going to change everything. It’s going to change cars, it’s going to change phones, and whether you do natural language through a text to voice or even touching, I think we see that it’s going to have a fundamental impact in how those devices work.

And for us, it creates two things broadly. It creates an incredible opportunity for innovation and especially as we think about these new computing platforms that we can do, also resets the market as you could create new upgrade cycles of phones or PCs. And I think we’ve seen an incredible change happening on cars and it’s very profound. One thing that I often see a little bit of a confusion, and I don’t know if that’s the right way to describe it, but the AI and GenAI in the cloud, in the device, they’re different. Yes, you can have the same thing. You can have certain models that you can run in the cloud, you can run them on a device, but they’re going to evolve in a very different way. And I think the Copilot+ presented by Microsoft and all the devices here is a way to actually describe that very clear. They have different roles, especially when you think about the PC and I’m just going to talk about the three things. You get entertained, you create, and you’re productive on the PC.

So if we think about something like creation, creativity, the ideation phase, you’re doing things, you’re trying, you want to do those things on the device. If anything, there’s an economic equation right there. I’ve been running models on the cloud, but the other things, which is how you deal with personalization and privacy and all of that. So the AI, it’s big. It’s going to be, the next cycle is going to change. It’s going to change how we think about experience. It’s going to change apps, and I think you’re going to be a positive thing for all of our business.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, you hit on a lot of things there, Cristiano. Do you remember, I think it was two years ago, MWC stable, diffusion broke out, and I think you and I and Patrick, we hopped on a video really quickly because you were like, I remember how excited you were and obviously we were first looking in on handsets, but I know that day I remember you pulling us aside and saying what this is going to mean for the PC business and where you were heading with Snapdragon?

At the time it was CX, now it’s the X Elite, but you did just hit on the diversification, which you talked about automotive. You’re here doing PC. You guys obviously have so much provenance on the handsets, the IoT diversification strategy is working, but I think one of the things you’re really after is being seen not just as a mobile, but as a compute company as a whole. How much does this win getting Microsoft to come out, advocate for your platform above others, seeing all these OEMs choosing designs with you and the success of all these other businesses, how much is it accelerating your strategy to be a compute company?

Cristiano Amon: Oh, it’s massive. It is what I said at the Computex keynote. This is like graduation day for Qualcomm as a computing company. I cannot pick a better example. Just think about this. We said that we are moving from a comms company, communication company to a connected computing company and one that is going to enable intelligent computing everywhere. So historically, when people think about name a computing semiconductor company to make a semiconductor company, which is a leader in computing, the Qualcomm name will not come up.

Now, it’s different. If you think about it, we’re just restoring the performance computing leadership to the Windows ecosystem and it’s enabled by Qualcomm. None don’t exist in players. So I cannot think of a better example of we have arrived into proving ourselves we’re going to be not only a comms leader, but a computing leader based on what we have done with Copilot+ PCs. And it’s actually flattering for us to see some of the existing players in the PC space to say, look at me. I have this too. I have something that is like Qualcomm. Let me benchmark myself about Qualcomm. Qualcomm the new entrant in this, all of a sudden come in with the leadership position. This is a great position to be in, and I think it speaks to first of all, how determined we are to diversify and grow the company, but I think the quality of the Qualcomm technology.

Daniel Newman: Hey, we’ve done some of those benchmarks.

Ryan Shrout: By the way. We have done some of those benchmarks, pretty good results. I’m curious, you talk about needing to be performance platform. I think the NPU has been a big focus of the discussion, Microsoft emphasis is on low-power, AI compute. I’m also curious though, when you talk about other companies benchmarking themselves to you, it’s the advent of your Oryon CPU core. How important is that to what you’ve been able to build for X Elite, but also how you’re going to drive that forward through the rest of your roadmap?

Cristiano Amon: Look, it’s very important, but it is also important to understand what is unique about Snapdragon. It’s not about one thing. See, here’s what I like about Qualcomm and how we think about our technology, and that is all because of our mobile heritage. You have some companies saying, look at me, I have a CPU. Or look at me, I’m a leader in the GPU. So from a Qualcomm perspective it has to be all of the above. Think of a company that has so many technologies under the same roof. We have the fastest CPU of any laptop right now, which is Oryon, and that’s important. It’s important, it’s going to go, we are been doing what we said we’re going to do. We’re going to bring that to PCs next, it’s going to be phones, and then auto is going to be in our entire product portfolio.

But then you think about Adreno GPU, in terms of sustained performance. A lot of people talk about benchmarks, but if you’re actually playing a game for several hours on a battery-powered device, sustained performance matter, and Adreno has been the leader of sustained performance because it’s just performance per watt. Then all of a sudden there’s this NPU thing and this NPU is this new engine that is doing this new computation that wasn’t being done before. The CPU and the GPU have a job to do, and it has to run the AI for the Copilot+.

So I think the answer to your question is what is unique about Snapdragon is it’s just not one trick pony. It’s not just we got the Ory on CPU and therefore now we have a different experience. No, the Copilot+ on X Elite is the combination of the CPU, the GPU, the NPU, which was revolutionary for AI, but even like the ISP, we’re bringing that from mobile. We see now in the Copilot+ PC, the first always sensing camera and all of the things you can do with large visual models by processing images. We saw an example of an application that was developed using the AI Hub using the camera. So it’s a whole new world, and I think it’s about bringing what is best of the Snapdragon platform to try to create those new experiences, which is no longer defined by a single element of computing.

Daniel Newman: And it’s moving very quickly too. And you can see, I mean obviously how quickly you’ve been able to bring developers in the AI Hub, you saw some of the applications. I like the demo of the DJ one.

Cristiano Amon: That’s cool.

Daniel Newman: It was super cool to see how, because I think a lot of people right now are looking for that, what is the NPU bringing? Because you’re hearing some early, of course Recall has been kind of the hero app, but there’s going to be more and you’re starting to show people what those experiences are going to look like. I want to start to look ahead a little bit here with you, Cristiano. I mean, look, you’re competing with legacy. And again, those are very entrenched, very successful legacies that have created the commercial and client PC. And clearly whether it’s been Best Buy, CEO coming out, Microsoft coming out, there are a lot of people that are clearly rooting for Qualcomm, Snapdragon, X Elite to be successful.

A lot of people aren’t even talking about the fact that you’re creating a platform that is similar to what Mac has done when they moved to an ARM-based architecture as well, and they showed the world that this can be low power, high performance, created a lot of enthusiasm. And some of the things I’m hearing, the tom toms on the street are the comparison of some of legacy versus this might be the first time that someone can compare a Windows-based PC to Mac in that way, moving more contextual, moving more across the portfolio. What does the next 24 months look like? Are you just going after what’s been, are you seeing that opportunity over here? How big does this get and what happens to AI experiences on these Edge devices?

Cristiano Amon: Absolutely. Look, there’s a lot embedded in your question.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I ask really long questions.

Cristiano Amon: No, but that’s good

Daniel Newman: Record.

Cristiano Amon: And I’m going to highlight one thing that is hidden in this whole thing you described, and now people are going to bench. Something that happened on the Mac ecosystem and then what’s happened now on the Windows ecosystem, mobile heritage matters. Which is kind of very unique thing, especially because the mobile phone is incredibly unforgiven from, you cannot get away without having leadership on performance terminals in that power consumption. And I think that’s one thing that is very unique from Qualcomm versus the existing players on the PC space.

But on top of it, you actually have Qualcomm deliver on the mission. The mission was there was a change that happened on personal computing, and you look at the M series and then the question was who can deliver that for the Windows ecosystem? And we will be tasked with that mission and I think now the outcome is very clear. The Windows ecosystem now has the performance position. But what is interesting about this is not just say, look at the specs of the CPU.

No, what is interesting about this is, which I feel the same way I feel about the automotive business, is Qualcomm is providing this leadership position at a time that the experiences fundamentally changed with AI and resets the whole clock. That is one that Microsoft moved first. Microsoft is the first to move to AI and that is now where the overall technology leadership is for personal computing. And that is the essence what we wanted to do with X Elites. Now once we get to this point. Now I feel I’m going to answer the rest of your question. Let’s look into the future.

Daniel Newman: A lot of questions.

Cristiano Amon: Yes, let’s look into the future. And I may have said that before. I’m going to repeat it because I think that’s the way to think about it. You look at Copilot+ got announced and Copilot+ got announced and Microsoft said, I’m going to highlight some features for you. And by the way, those features, you can only get those features if you actually have this Copilot+ PC because otherwise your other PC can’t get it. You have to go buy a Copilot+ PC like you have Recall, which means the AI is running all the time and know everything you do. All you need to tell the machine that said, bring them into the file. Bring me that thing that I work on, bring me that thing that I saw on YouTube three weeks ago.

So okay, you have that. You have a couple other features like photo editing, video editing, you have light translate and you can count 1, 2, 3, 4. I give you four examples. They’re for today. That’s not the roadmap of Copilot+. Those are the launch features. There’s going to be a number other use cases that coming up. Then we go to what we show. We said, look, a developer now has this machine went to the AI Hub. Pick a model, open source model, put the model on the front end, whether it’s image, audio, text, create an app, push it. Now this machine can run. You get another use case. You got the DJ. Those are just the ones that we show and I think this is what we are going to see now. We’re going to see that this is going to be… What are the AI use cases? They’re going to be 10, then we’re going to go in six months, they’re going to be hundreds and it’s going to go to thousands, and that’s going to be the new experience.

So I feel we have a moment which is no different than a feature phone going to a smartphone where the apps started to define the experience. Now, what is great about AI, and this is a more profound discussion than you probably sign up for, but what’s great about AI, eventually you don’t need the app. And I like to provide this example of what’s possible. This is where we talk about stable diffusion and I say, look, this is going to be a revolution. I’m going to find this example just to make a point.

But for example, think about how we use our apps. So the reason I’m going to use this app because I’m sure all of you have it, whether it’s your credit card or a banking app and you go in and start the app, you plug in the credentials, you go to the cloud, you get the information displayed a particular way. Let’s say now that in the future the bank decides to build their app on top of the APIs of a model, all you do is ask the model how much I have in my checking account, what was my last transaction, the model tell you?

And if you’re that nostalgic, you want the model to render the screen to you like an app. They can do it. So it’s a whole new world. Everything change, how we think about apps is going to change. I think that is how the future is going to look like. Those machines are going to start having those use cases and that’s how the PC experience is going to be. PC is truly reborn.

Ryan Shrout: When we’ve had conversations with a bunch of your partners this week here too, it’s been awesome. They’ve talked about disruption and they talk about use cases like this. I think the last question I want to ask you is as you work with those partners, I know it’s different than working in the handset world. What’s it been like seeing those partners come on board, Sano with you on stage with you? We had that great photo opportunity before the keynote yesterday. How’s that come together for you in the last six months, 12 months?

Cristiano Amon: Fantastic. And especially because one of the things that has been a marquee feature of our company is the ability to partner, the ability to partner with the ecosystem. I think it’s very simple. It’s our philosophy, which means we’re not going to be successful. Our partners are not going to be successful and isn’t create real an opportunity for all of us. And I think you saw from all of the partners that join our keynote, how excited they are. And actually first of all, we gave the Windows OEMs the fastest car in the race.

So now they know that they’re going to start the lap in the pole position. That’s a big deal. And then we are helping them create a whole new cycle for the industry to create an upgrade. And they know that they’re partner that can count on and there’s a partner that is going to be with them all the way and is actually trying to change. They look at this as this is an opportunity for them to become only more relevant, but actually have a whole new cycle of innovation and hopefully was reflected on stage with hugs and everything.

Ryan Shrout: It was.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it was very positive. It was great to see all of them come out. I think there was a picture of you aligned with all the partners and I mean everybody in the ecosystem right now, Cristiano understands what a massive inflection this is. The group of keynotes at this event with you and the other leaders of large semiconductor companies around the world is very indicative to me that they all understand what’s at stake here.

And to your credit, the inflection of a new architecture for PCs and new experiences, which you shared here with everyone because I agree with you, the model becomes the software and that’s going to be an interesting change that’s coming our way. But this is it. This is the moment. It won’t look like this next year because it’s going to be heads down. This was the moment and I think the company shined, and of course-

Cristiano Amon: Oh, thank you.

Daniel Newman: Your keynote really shined and we appreciate you so much sitting down with us.

Cristiano Amon: We’re busy at work. I think this is an important moment for our company and I think we’re executing on changing the company into a company that is going to be recognized as an AI company for the Edge, is going to deliver intelligent computing everywhere and we’re doing it with purpose. And I think this event really meant another big step for us.

Daniel Newman: It definitely was. And I’ll save you 10 minutes by not asking you a data center GPU question, but Cristiano Amon, President, CEO Qualcomm, thank you so much for joining The Six Five here in Taiwan.

Cristiano Amon: Pleasure to be here.

Daniel Newman: And thank you all for tuning in. We really appreciate you being part of our community and part of this exclusive coverage of The Six Five On the Road here at Computex 2024. For Ryan Shrout, myself, and the whole crew. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you all later.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.

As President, Signal65 Ryan ensures the company provides valuable insight on competitive analysis, performance marketing, product positioning, and real-world experience comparisons.

With a focus on in-depth testing and nearly two decades of hands-on experience, Ryan has created a breadth of knowledge in nearly all fields of hardware including CPUs, GPUs, AI/NPUs, SoC design, memory systems, storage, graphics, displays and their integration into client and data center solutions and platforms.

He spent five years at Intel serving in roles from competitive analysis, to owning client technical marketing, and driving product delivery in the client graphics and AI division. Prior to Intel, Ryan spent 18 years analyzing hardware and technology as the owner of PC Perspective and three years as the Principal Analyst at Shrout Research.

Ryan has worked with major technology companies and their product management teams at Intel, Qualcomm, AMD, NVIDIA, Arm, MediaTek, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, ASUS, Meta, Microsoft, and Adobe. His work has been cited and quoted by numerous technology news outlets and is a regular contributor to MarketWatch.

Ryan holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from the University of Kentucky.

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