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Taking aim at Intel, Qualcomm launches chip for business PCs

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), the biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones, on Thursday pushed further into the PC market with a line of chips designed to power business machines.

Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon” processor chips historically have been at the heart of mobile phones like Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google Pixel phone and many Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) devices.

Over the past year, though, Qualcomm adapted its chips to operate PCs running Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Windows operating system, making those machines start up more quickly and stay connected to the Internet constantly, much like a mobile phone or tablet.

But the chips Qualcomm used in those early PCs were essentially modified versions of the chips it sold for mobile phones. At an event in Hawaii on Thursday, Qualcomm officials said they have created a new series of chips called the Snapdragon 8cx that will be dedicated to PCs.

The biggest difference is the new Qualcomm chips will support Windows 10 Enterprise, the version of Microsoft’s popular operating system that is sold to businesses. Previous Qualcomm chips supported only the consumer versions of Windows, making business customers less likely to purchase computers powered by them.

Qualcomm’s move puts it in greater competition with chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O), which last year still derived more than half of its $62.8 billion in revenue from PC chips and dominates that market. Intel’s association with Windows PCs was so strong that the computer industry referred to them as “Wintel” machines for decades.

Qualcomm and others are also challenging Intel’s supremacy in the data center business. Qualcomm’s chips are powered by technology from SoftBank Group Corp-controlled Arm Holdings. Several companies - including Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) cloud division Amazon Web Services, a major Intel customer - are working to make ARM-based chips suitable for data centers. [nL2N1Y31HG]

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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