During Qualcomm’s AI Day 2019 in San Francisco this week, we were able to sit down with the president of the company, Cristiano Amon. At The Pearl event venue, a small group of European journalists asked about 5G, AI in the automotive business, Huawei and the ongoing Apple case. Here’s what the Qualcomm boss had to say.
Qualcomm has spent the morning presenting its vision for the future of artificial intelligence. Revealed for the first time was a new Cloud AI 100, a 7nm accelerator to bring AI to the server side of computing, alongside three new Snapdragon chipsets for the mid-range. There was also lots of talk of 5G and the edge cloud. In our roundtable, we got a chance to find out what Amon thinks about what’s happening in Europe.
Who is leading the race for 5G in Europe?
Cristiano Amon doesn't “see any significant gap between the 5G being deployed in South Korea and the US”, at least in terms of where the technology is. He expressed his pride that, unlike when 4G came out, manufacturers are ahead of the actual networks for the fifth generation of mobile networking. But who is leading the charge in Europe?
“If you ask me, where are the countries within Europe that are moving faster I would say The UK, Italy and Switzerland,” says Amon. After that, he says Germany is the closest to chasing the front-runners. He also confirmed that Qualcomm has been in meetings with Europeans and that the urgency of 5G in Europe is now understood, not only by the operators but also by the regulators and the governments.
And that’s a big deal because, as Amon puts it, “this is the first time the wireless industry (not the telecoms industry) is contributing a general purpose technology for society”.
Amon explained that unlike with 4G, where everybody was more or less on the same level and the race was for coverage, the situation is different today because 5G is not all made equal. “If we’re talking about high speeds, and you’re really bringing wireless fiber to the devices, for lack of a better word, the operators that actually have the fiber network, and dense enough, will be significantly different than the ones that don’t.”
He also said that he expects to see private deployments of 5G, that operators are going to very flexible to enable that to happen. The two models, he says, will coexist.
What does it mean to have artificial intelligence your hands?
Amon explained that you have your device’s computation power and processor, then you have 5G, and then you have edge cloud. He says you will always have the big cloud, but the edge cloud is the one that is going to be able to make the most of the low latency capabilities of 5G. The lines seem to be getting somewhat blurred, as we move to an even more connected future.
AI will save lives on the road
In terms of the future of mobility, Cristiano Amon believes that 5G and increased autonomy is going to have a big impact on safety. Why? Because artificial intelligence is not going to allow you to be a bad driver.
“It’s about looking at behavior, and usually accidents happen when somebody gets out of their lane or runs over a red light or the driver is not paying attention or looking at their phone, and AI can be a fundamental improvement on the safety of those cars. The stuff that we’re doing in the cockpit is about monitoring the driver.”
How about those low light photos on the P30 Pro, eh?
It was put to Cristiano Amon that a lot of Europeans are just getting their Kirin 980-powered P30 Pro’s and are blown away by what the new Huawei flagship can do when very little light is there to be harvested. He flinched, but not much.
“You have a lot of different cadence coming off of product launches. A lot of the new products coming with the Snapdragon 855 are going to come out throughout the year. You are going to be pretty impressed with the stuff that we can do with low light.”
He added that the ISP design is “extremely solid”, and that you have to look at the end-to-end solutions, including what camera modules and sensors are being used all the way down to the SoC. “You are going to see great phones coming out with 48MP, three cameras, zoom, and low light photography that will be even better than what’s available with the P30 Pro.”
Finally… the inevitable Apple question
The ongoing legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple was bound to come up at some point. The end, it seems, could be in sight.
“What we are saying is that 2019 is the year that we expect a resolution with our dispute with Apple. Either through a settlement or through the court system, we’re pretty confident this is the year that we have a resolution.”
Cristiano was not exactly shy about talking about the subject, he’s had a lot of practice after all, but offered his increasingly famous line to quickly end the discussion.
“We are focused on our company and the things within our control. You never bet against a wireless generation, and anybody that wants to be a leader in wireless, especially with leading flagship devices, will have to work with the leaders in 5G. We are very focused on establishing ourselves as a leader in 5G. If Apple decides that it is in their best interest to work with Qualcomm, because of what we are doing in 5G, as I’ve said before, they have our number.”
What do you think about Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon’s comments on 5G in Europe, that Snapdragon 855 camera claim and the chances of a resolution with Apple this year? Let us know.