Qualcomm Announces New Automotive Partnerships With Mercedes-Benz And Red Hat

Business

As part of its first Automotive Investor Day today, Qualcomm
QCOM
announced a pair of new partnerships with Mercedes-Benz and Red Hat
RHT
. Qualcomm has moved aggressively in recent years to diversify its business beyond mobile devices with vehicles seen as a prime hunting ground and it’s already making significant inroads.

In 2021, Qualcomm had almost $11 billion in revenue of which approximately $350 million was automotive, mostly for the cellular modems that provide connectivity as well as some Snapdragon processors that run infotainment systems. At the company’s 2021 investor day, CEO Cristiano Amon set a target of $3.5 billion in automotive revenue for 2026 and $8 billion by 2031. With the announcements that have been made since then, the chip design company is on its way, particularly winning business away from Intel
INTC
subsidiary, Mobileye.

Earlier this year, GM started using the Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride platform to power the advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) in the Cadillac Lyriq and will be expanding the use of Qualcomm silicon to other models from 2023. Both BMW and Volkswagen have also announced a shift away from Mobileye to Qualcomm on new models beginning in 2025. Stellantis has also selected Qualcomm digital chassis platforms to power the new cabin systems it is developing with Foxconn.

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The latest announcements are focused on the software defined vehicle area. Mercedes-Benz will be adopting Qualcomm Snapdragon cockpit chips to power next-generation infotainment and connectivity systems. This marks a shift away from Nvidia which Mercedes has used in its current MBUX system. The first Mercedes vehicles with Qualcomm digital cockpit will launch in 2023

The other announcement today is a partnership with IBM
IBM
-owned Red Hat to combine that company’s open source In-Vehicle Operating System with Qualcomm Digital Chassis systems. This marks Red Hat’s second entry into the automotive space this year. Earlier, GM announced that it would use Red Hat as the base operating system for its upcoming Ultifi software platform. While GM will be using Qualcomm to power the infotainment and ADAS systems on upcoming vehicles, it’s unknown if Ultifi will run on a Snapdragon platform.

Like Nvidia which announced its new Thor system on a chip to power centralized compute platforms for SDVs, Qualcomm is targeting the same market but with a slightly different approach. Nvidia has developed a single giant chip to power all of the compute needs of the vehicle. For now, Qualcomm is taking a more scalable approach with multiple chips running on blades in a central compute box. This allows an automaker to scale the system to their specific needs and potentially keep costs down. It remains to be seen which approach will ultimately win out but Jeremiah Golston, SVP and Head of Automotive Engineering doesn’t rule out introducing more highly integrated chips in the future.

For now, Qualcomm and Red Hat are focused on developing a safety rated and secure platform that automakers can integrate into their vehicles. The two companies plan to have the first versions of a pre-integrated combination of Red Hat In-Vehicle operating system with Snapdragon Ride and Snapdragon Cockpit available for testing in the second half of 2023.

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