Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
Qualcomm introduced a new Snapdragon G3x microchip on Wednesday for handheld consoles in a sign of gaming’s rising importance for semiconductor companies.
The announcement shows Qualcomm wants a piece of the hot gaming market, where AMD and Nvidia, which power game consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, are seeing huge growth.
The chip will debut in a portable developer device made by Razer, a gaming peripheral and computer company. The console resembles a Nintendo Switch but runs Android games. It has a 6.65-inch screen and a built-in controller
Qualcomm is the biggest supplier of chips at the heart of Android phones made by companies such as Samsung and Xiaomi. Qualcomm reported $7.7 billion in chip sales in its fiscal 2021, of which 60% were for handsets.
Gaming applications are increasingly a selling point for high-end mobile chips because advanced games can take advantage of increased power to provide more realistic and smoother gameplay.
Producing chips for game console makers has become a lucrative business for other semiconductor companies.
AMD, for example, makes the processor at the center of consoles like the Sony Playstation 5 and Microsoft Series X, and the company said that strong demand for gaming consoles contributed to higher-than-expected revenue last quarter. AMD is also providing the processor for the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming console expected to debut next year.
Nvidia makes the processor at the heart of the Nintendo Switch, which has sold over 92 million units since it debuted in 2016.
Razer‘s product is a developers kit intended for game makers and programmers, but it’s likely to resemble forthcoming commercial products from Qualcomm customers. It provides a preview of the technologies that Qualcomm will support on next-generation portable gaming consoles, like 5G connections, a webcam for streaming and other features the Nintendo Switch doesn’t currently offer.