Qualcomm, diversifying from mobile phones, to supply chips for BMW self-driving cars By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People visit a Qualcomm booth at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) -Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday said that German automaker BMW will use its chips in its next generation of driver-assistance and self-driving systems.

San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ:) is the world’s biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones but has been diversifying its business, with more than a third of its chip sales coming from sources other than makers of handsets.

Qualcomm’s announcement of the BMW win came before an investor presentation where it detailed how the company is working with firms like Meta Platforms Inc on virtual reality hardware and with Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:) on Windows laptops that use Qualcomm chips.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon said he believes the addressable market for the firm’s technologies is now $700 billion, seven times higher than the phone chip industry alone.

“We’ve never had so many end-market opportunities for Qualcomm as we have today,” Amon said.

A spokesperson for BMW said the new chips would be used for its “Neue Klasse” series of cars, set to start production from 2025.

Automotive chips are a key growth area for Qualcomm, which supplies chips for infotainment system instrument panels to companies such as General Motors Co (NYSE:).

It has also been working to challenge its chip industry rivals Nvidia (NASDAQ:) Corp and Intel Corp (NASDAQ:) in supplying chips that power driver-assistance computers for tasks such as automated lane-keeping and eventual self-driving systems.

Qualcomm and BMW will use a dedicated Qualcomm computer vision processing chip to analyze data from front, rear and surround-view cameras. BMW will also use a Qualcomm central computing chip and another set of Qualcomm chips to help the car communicate with cloud computing data centers.

An existing partnership between BMW and Intel’s Mobileye (F:) self-driving technology unit would continue, BMW said, although plans to release an autonomous vehicle in 2021 have not materialized.

A 7 Series full-size sedan featuring Intel’s Level 3 autonomous driving technology, which enables cars to drive themselves under limited conditions but still require a driver, is due for release next year.

The two companies did not say how much of the BMW group’s line-up the Qualcomm deal would cover.

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