Qualcomm is building an M1 rival — and it has a powerful weapon under its belt

Qualcomm (Image credit: Qualcomm)

The M1 chip that powers the updated MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro caused shockwaves in the laptop industry. Apple ditched Intel and boasted that its new custom ARM-based processors was a power-efficient, performance beast — and that turned out to be true.

Qualcomm won't let Apple steal all the shine, though. The chipmaker is determined to launch a new processor that will rival the M1 chip — without the ARM architecture (via Reuters).

Qualcomm announces plans to launch M1 chip rival

Qualcomm is certain that it can knock Apple off its pedestal. How? Well, Qualcomm has a powerful weapon under its belt: an army of ex-Apple workers.

This year, Qualcomm acquired Nuvia (a startup founded by employees who worked on the Apple Silicon transition) for $1.4 billion. According to a Reuters interview, Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon said that the company assembled a chip-architect team — with the aforementioned former Apple employees who worked on the M1 chip — to help take down Apple.

It's worth noting that Apple filed a lawsuit against Nuvia claiming that its former employees breached a contract that forbids them from helping competitors gain an advantage with insider knowledge. The dispute remains unresolved as of this writing.

Unlike Apple, however, Qualcomm's strategy is to design a spectacular chip without ARM (its partner in the smartphone sector). So what's Qualcomm's strategy for its upcoming M1 rival? The company envisions an SoC that can bring 5G connectivity to more laptops while providing top-of-the-line performance.

Although Qualcomm admitted that it won't be relying on ARM's computing core blueprints to accomplish its goal of outperforming M1, it isn't ruling out an ARM partnership completely. 

“If Arm, which we’ve had a relationship with for years, eventually develops a CPU that’s better than what we can build ourselves, then we always have the option to license from Arm," Amon said.

Whether Qualcomm decides to license from ARM or take another route, Reuters says that we can expect to see the M1 rival sometime next year.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!