Qualcomm's Oryon processors face challenges due to PMIC mandate

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Qualcomm's Oryon processors face challenges due to PMIC mandate
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Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM ), the multinational semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company, is facing challenges over its proprietary power management protocols for its forthcoming Oryon processors. The company's insistence on using its own power management integrated circuits (PMICs) for these processors has raised concerns and increased costs among its key partners.

In a report by SemiAccurate, Qualcomm's next-generation Oryon processors, set to be released next year, will require the use of its exclusive PMICs due to proprietary power management protocols. This requirement forces PC laptop manufacturers to purchase and use these PMICs in addition to the Oryon processors. Traditionally, PC makers had the option to source their own PMICs, but this is not an option with the Oryon processors.

The PMICs are smartphone-oriented and might not be sufficient for PCs. Optimizing the PMICs would be a capital-intensive venture for the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), requiring multiple PMICs to handle a PC-class system-on-chip (SoC) and a printed circuit board (PCB) with a 0.6mm pitch high-density interconnect (HDI).

Due to this PMIC mandate, some PC OEMs have threatened to abandon their Oryon projects, which could drive up costs for laptop manufacturers. However, SemiAccurate also notes that Qualcomm has compensated OEMs financially to counter the cost implications of building Windows laptops with the Oryon chipset and mandated PMICs.

Qualcomm acquired Nuvia in January 2021 for $1.4 billion and began working on new chips, officially labeled Oryon in late 2022. The world is set to get its first glimpse of Oryon CPUs at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii in just a few weeks. However, consumers won't have access to PCs powered by the next-gen chip until sometime in 2024, when they hit mass production.

The Oryon CPUs, developed by a team that includes former Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) engineers, are expected to rival Apple's M-series chips and enhance Windows thin-and-light laptops. A separate report by SemiAccurate claims that Oryon CPUs perform "slightly more than the Apple M2 cores," which is impressive for a Gen 1 product.

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