NVIDIA Finally Admits Defeat To Qualcomm, Gives Up On 'Icera' LTE Modem Development

NVIDIA, a major player in the graphics chip market, announced today that it's winding down its Icera modem operations in the second quarter of its fiscal 2016 and is open to selling off the technology. So ends NVIDIA's short-lived plans to break into the smartphone market, as it's now focused on other categories, including gaming, automotive, and cloud computing.

The chip maker acquired UK-based Icera in 2011 for $367 million and, at the time, had big plans of getting into mobile. Icera was an attractive buy for NVIDIA because of its baseband technology, and in particular its line of software modems that could be used in a number of wireless devices. Part of NVIDIA's hope was to bake Icera into future Tegra SoCs rather than lean on external solutions from the likes of Qualcomm.


"The company purchased Icera in 2011 to engage the smartphone revolution with a leading integrated application processor and modem platform. Since then, the company has reshaped its strategy to focus on high-growth opportunities in gaming, automotive and cloud computing applications like deep learning, where its visual computing expertise is greatly valued," NVIDIA said.

NVIDIA says it's existing Icera 4G LTE modem is useable for at least the next year or so, though after that, it plans on partnering with third-party modem suppliers rather than continuing to develop its own. That likely translates into Qualcomm or Samsung, two of the bigger players that remain, whereas companies like Texas Instruments, Broadcom, and Freescale Semiconductor have all left the mobile modem market.