Interview Qualcomm Cristiano Nvidiaarmtibkencnet: As the semiconductor industry enters 2018, many are looking to Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s incoming CEO, to break the logjam in fab capacity. Process node development has slowed down as companies focus their investments on other parts of their business rather than investing in new fabs.
The San Diego-based chip giant’s incoming CEO Cristiano Amon: With the global semiconductor industry facing a severe shortage of fab capacity, the spotlight is shining bright on Cristiano Amon, the incoming CEO of San Diego-based Qualcomm. As a fierce advocate of fabless model, Amon is focused on maximizing profit and “producing as much profit per square inch as possible.”
“We don’t have any plans to build our own fab,” he emphasized. “For us, it’s about maximizing profits as our business model always has been. We brought the fabless model to mobile and we continue to build on that model.”
Amon will step into the shoes of Steven Mollenkopf when he takes over as Qualcomm’s CEO on March 3. Mollenkopf will become executive chairman of the board and take a back seat to Amon in running Qualcomm.
“We are facing an unprecedented time for the semiconductor industry,” said Amon in an exclusive interview with EE Times. “The chips that go into smartphones, laptops, and other products are becoming more and more advanced, so you’re going to find a lot of different types of chips in a phone today – from mobile application processors to Wi-Fi, RF and digital radio transceivers.
“This is a time of enormous strength for the industry,” he added. “It’s the largest semiconductor company in the world that has the most significant reach. It’s a great time to be at Qualcomm.”
Amon has been with Qualcomm for years and is also known for developing the world’s first system-on-chip (SoC) for CDMA mobile phones, which was first made available in the late 1990s. He also played a key role in developing the 3G CDMA standard, as well as bringing voice over LTE technology to market.
With Amon at helm, many are looking to him to do something about the supply shortage and improve the situation.
“I think it’s always been a very complicated supply chain,” said Amon. “There are a lot of actors in the value chain and they have different agendas. You have to work with them. Not everyone views the world in the same way, but we all have a common goal and that is to provide the best technologies at competitive prices for our customers.”
“What this means is we’ll get better technology more quickly,” he added. “We won’t be constrained by supply or constraints in any particular area. It’s a great opportunity for Qualcomm to provide higher-performance and more capable products.”
Amon has to deal with a lot of the same issues that his predecessor Mollenkopf was confronted with. In terms of the global chip shortage, Amon said Mollenkopf “put Qualcomm in a position where it could capitalize on this opportunity. I can only build on what he has done.”
“You have to plan for these types of things,” Amon explained. “The supply chain is complicated. You have to work with the various actors, so you plan ahead. As we look into 2018 and beyond, our expectation is that if there’s any type of shortage, the management team will have to make the appropriate adjustments so we can continue to meet our customers’ needs.”
“It takes time,” he added. “You can’t just flip a switch in one night and all of a sudden you have more capacity. But that’s what we did with LTE and Snapdragon. We have used the technology to build out our network and continue to add capacity.”
So, when it comes to the global chip shortage, will Qualcomm be looking to build new fabs?
“We don’t have any plans to build our own fab,” Amon confirmed. “For us, it’s about maximizing profits as our business model always has been. We brought the fabless model to mobile and we continue to build on that model.