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Nvidia abandons fruitless efforts to build LTE modems

Nvidia abandons fruitless efforts to build LTE modems

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If you're building a mobile device with fast 4G connectivity, you're usually shopping exclusively at Qualcomm's chip store. The LTE modem dominance of the San Diego company has been almost total over the past few years, and because of the integrated nature of its systems-on-chip, it's also spilled over into giving Qualcomm a significant lead among mobile processors as well. Nvidia is now formalizing Qualcomm's supremacy by announcing that it's winding down its Icera division, which was responsible for developing competing LTE modems. Evidently, the task proved too difficult.

Nvidia acquired Icera back in 2011, and intended to "engage the smartphone revolution" in much the same way that Qualcomm is doing now, but its LTE hardware was consistently behind Qualcomm's best and never managed to catch up. The goal of integrating the Icera modems into Nvidia's Tegra processors never fully materialized (other than the unsuccessful Tegra 4i) and this news was only really a matter of time. Nvidia says it has since "reshaped its strategy to focus on high-growth opportunities in gaming, automotive and cloud computing applications," with its original ambitions for competing in the smartphone arena starting to fade like a distant memory.

Companies like Intel and MediaTek are stepping up to provide more robust competition for Qualcomm this year, and Samsung made the significant decision of using its own LTE modem in the Galaxy S6. So we're not quite facing a Qualcomm monopoly yet, but Nvidia's relevance to this field of technology seems to have all but expired.