Qualcomm and how the market is shifting from processor power to modem power


Qualcomm’s Investor Day was last week and its CEO Cristiano Amon made a comment that I disagree with, although the result for Qualcomm is the same or better. Amon said everything is moving, but I don’t think that’s correct.

Rather, I argue that everything becomes connected to the cloud. I also suggest that this cloud-connected capability promotes Qualcomm even more than the mobile aspect of this trend, as the cloud is a centralized resource. This shifts the importance of processors at the edge to modems at the edge.

Most mass-deployed cameras and sensors are not mobile. Yet they’re not wired, which means Qualcomm’s market-leading connectivity technology is becoming more critical than the processors in those devices that increasingly use cloud processing power.

Let’s talk about this trend and what it means to you. Next, we’ll end with my product of the week, the Lenovo ThinkVision M14t portable monitor.

Mobile vs Cloud

This focus on the cloud doesn’t mean that mobile isn’t essential and growing, but as we look at solutions like advanced driver assistance systems (Qualcomm just announced a huge ADAS deal with BMW), a lot of things are related to cars and mobiles. . But some of the downsides of this solution are remote charging (most advanced autonomous vehicles will be electric), road sensors, brake light sensors, weather sensors, and cameras; which are not all mobile.

This cloud focus doesn’t mean processors won’t be essential, but the growing bandwidth requirements of this cloud breakthrough seem to be the trigger for innovative new projects. For example, remote cameras use AI to selectively send a subset of data so that the bandwidth is not exceeded by too much data. Yet the problem with being selective is that critical information can be lost.

For example, if a camera’s AI is configured to alert and send video only when a non-employee is within range of the camera. What if an employee shows up at a factory site armed and upset about being fired, getting a bad review, or being bullied? The camera does not send the video because it recognizes the employee and does not recognize the threat.

So you go looking for a gun, and the employee shows up with a bat or a knife; the system may not report the problem until someone is injured and may not have captured the event so that security or police can respond in a timely manner.

I had an experience like this recently with my Arlo cameras. They were about to report people approaching our house, but our cats got out and the ones that were set up to report people did not capture the cats which could have been problematic.

Let’s take another example that I came across on Amazon.

A few years ago, Amazon received numerous complaints about slow deliveries, but reports indicated that everything was arriving on time. When a forensic analysis company was called in, they discovered that a central distributor, which was not supposed to ship directly to an end customer, was indeed shipping to those customers and that shipments were consistently late.

The Amazon company was not aware of the problem because central distributors were not supposed to, so their automated data reporting system did not report the behavior. Information that was not sent to the company was essential in diagnosing and correcting the problem.

Qualcomm’s modem capacity increases the available bandwidth, so our need to be selective with the data being sent will be reduced. This reduction should also reduce the amount of unintentional bias in the solution, resulting in better results.

Decisions made on the basis of biased results are much more likely to be wrong. When you have a bandwidth bottleneck, the technology that relieves that bandwidth is on the critical path, giving Qualcomm a significant competitive advantage.

Cloud pc

Since we ditched mainframe computers, we have tried to go back, probably because terminals look more like TVs than PCs, and users are much less involved in maintaining TVs than PCs. With mainframes, the service, software update, and hardware update processes were all managed centrally.

Whether for gaming or productivity, the market is now exploring Windows Virtual Desktop, where your operating system and applications run in the cloud. The advantages of this approach mirror the advantages of mainframes and terminals. You can access the performance you need without upgrading your PCs, and all maintenance processes are handled by the cloud provider.

The growing focus on the cloud for performance shifts the focus from pure performance to battery life on the device.

Qualcomm-based laptops have the advantage because they are designed for maximum battery life, not absolute performance. They’re still perfectly capable of putting together productivity apps, entertainment apps (but not top-tier games), and whatever else you do on the web. For anything that requires performance, you use cloud services that offer the benefit of virtually unlimited capacity with little impact on battery life.

As we enter this new cloud-connected world, Qualcomm’s focus on reducing power consumption increases its advantage.

The metaverse

One of the latest trends is the multiverse and digital twins. But to make digital twins truly functional for simulation, these twins need to stay in sync with their physical siblings.

This critical connection will require instrumenting the physical aspects of the world that are duplicated to ensure that this synchronization is timely. However, users will also need to wear a mobile visual interface to experience some of the AR overlays promised by the Metaverse. In 2007, HP provided a sort of metaverse experience demo called Roku’s Reward. This remains one of the best demonstrations of bridging the real and the virtual in a fascinating experience.

The headsets required for this experience, like the Occulus Quest, also use Qualcomm’s solutions to deliver high performance and high-speed connectivity coupled with long battery life. The quality of the experience and the accuracy of the metaverse will depend on Qualcomm technology.


While mobility is a trend, the biggest event benefiting Qualcomm is the shift to remote processing, which leverages its leadership in the modem market and emphasizes its processor focus on the power per watt.

The company is well positioned for this new future that includes the shift from the reality-based distributed world to centralized computing, a virtually augmented world defined by AI and the metaverse of the future.

Rob Enderle's Tech Product of the Week

Lenovo ThinkVision M14t USB-C Portable Monitor

The $ 384 ThinkVision M14t portable monitor isn’t a cheap date. Still, it turned out to be capable of a handy operation when I tested it: I could sign a document from a desktop computer that didn’t have a touchscreen (making a signature with a mouse is no).

This monitor is touch-sensitive and comes with a stylus. It has 1080 resolution, 14 inch form factor, and 16: 9 orientation so you can do full screen streaming videos while working on your laptop screen.

The users who will get the most out of this device will be those who need to interact with the display while using a desktop PC or workstation or laptop that does not have a tablet function. This user group would include artists, reviewers (who use a pen), teachers who grade digital documents, and lawyers or contract administrators who review digital contracts.

If you want a second display, there are cheaper choices, but you can interact with it as if it were a tablet if you need something with that capability. The base allows you to switch from landscape to portrait if you want to orient vertically the document you are reviewing or the drawing you are creating.

Another use for this monitor is a current generation smartphone with USB-C, allowing you to expand the screen with the full touch of your smartphone to 14 inches. Depending on how you use this monitor, you may be able to leave your laptop at home. With a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, your phone can serve as a computing device connected to Windows Virtual Desktop in the cloud.

As noted above, this cloud use case could be our way of working in the future. The ThinkVision M14t can help you explore this trend before it goes from how we’re going to work to the way we are working now. This might be the perfect way to experience the world of cloud-connected virtual PCs of the future, and it’s my product of the week.

(The ThinkVision M14t was available at the time of writing. Supply shortages plague the industry, so availability can fluctuate.)

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


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