Qualcomm accelerating efforts to bring GenAI capabilities to Edge devices, says company’s India head Savi Soin

If Nvidia is providing the AI horsepower needed for data centres and servers worldwide, semiconductor major Qualcomm wants to capture the AI-on-Edge market and is focused on working toward making AI-enabled chipsets for smartphones, computers, modems, and other Edge devices. Speaking to businessline, Qualcomm India president Savi Soin says the company is well poised to capture the market of bringing Generative AI to smartphones and other Edge devices, and looks forward to serving more Indian customers with the expansion of the Chennai centre. Excerpts of the chat:

What is the roadmap of Qualcomm when it comes to bringing AI-enabled chipsets to edge computing such as smartphones or computers?

We are already seeing flagship smartphone launches that are next-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen-3 enabled. We are bringing new use cases around edge AI across devices. We are talking to various automotive and industrial OEMs in India about Edge use cases. We are already exploring AI-enabled PCs. You will see us becoming more aggressive on AI in the Edge. 

How much of the work involving Qualcomm’s AI chipsets happens out of India?

There is no percentage as such but the culture is such that wherever the expertise is there is a lot of collaboration. Our teams have people from the US, India and other locations working together on products. This centre (Chennai), for instance, specialises in wireless connectivity chipsets, and more contributions will come from here in the future. 

What prompted the expansion here at Chennai? How fast will you scale here?

Our expansion strategy is generally based on creating a centre of excellence that attracts talent and innovation. We found that our Chennai centre had people working on the wireless connectivity side for more than 30 years and wanted to build on that expertise. We are not projecting headcount, but we are not going to move into such a big space to keep it empty. With India’s PLI and DLI schemes, the pool of Indian industrial OEMs is also growing, and we are expecting a big growth from this segment of customers in addition to serving our global demand. 

In what ways are you working with the Indian government and customers?

The Indian government is interested to see how it can make industrial modules across sectors smarter. They want to know how Qualcomm can help digitise industries in India. In the case of companies entering the semiconductor sector (Tatas for instance), at the moment, they are interested to understand the tech from us and see how they can innovate. We are not licensing our technology right now, and these are more in the nature of traditional technology partnerships. 

What is the level of your engagement with the start-up and innovation ecosystem here?

We are an ecosystem company that enables others to create value. Our team works closely with the IIT-Madras on their 5G and 6G work. We mentor semiconductor start-ups and also teach start-ups to create , patent and utilise Intellectual Property through the Qualcomm Design in India challenge. We have been investing in India’s start-ups through Qualcomm Ventures and we will continue to do so if it meets our criteria.

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