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Xiaomi and OPPO could launch their own 5G smartphone chips as early as this year

The news comes on the back of China's increasing investments in semiconductors.

Published onApril 9, 2021

Processor chip soc
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Xiaomi and OPPO are reportedly getting ready to announce custom 5G chips.
  • Their respective in-house sub-6GHz 5G SoCs could launch between late 2021 and early 2022.

Xiaomi and OPPO seem all set to take on Qualcomm and MediaTek by developing their own 5G smartphone SoCs.

According to Digitimes, the two Chinese vendors will introduce their respective in-house sub-6GHz 5G chips between late 2021 and early 2022.  Shanghai-based fabless chipmaker Unisoc will also join the two companies in developing its own smartphone processors.

The news comes on the back of China’s increasing investments in the semiconductor space. The country has ramped up its efforts to produce chips locally so that it doesn’t have to depend on foreign chipmakers.

The biggest realization came over the past two years that saw HUAWEI lose its ability to procure Kirin chipsets from TSMC due to restrictions imposed by the US. The country doesn’t allow component sales to HUAWEI if they have been manufactured using US technology. Such harsh consequences have also made other Chinese smartphone players vary of a similar fate if US-China relations were to sour further.

This is not the first we’ve heard of Chinese vendors entering the chip game. It was previously reported that OPPO has a so-called “Mariana Plan” to produce its own chipsets, reportedly led by a former senior Qualcomm executive. OnePlus and realme, OPPO’s sister companies, have also apparently joined its custom chip initiative.

Xiaomi also recently announced its first self-developed image signal processing (ISP) chip, the Surge C1, showing that it’s very much capable of developing independent mobile chips. If the firm launches a full-fledged 5G mobile SoC sometime soon, it’ll be its second attempt at making a phone chip after the Surge S1 chip that released back in 2017.

Custom chips will also ensure that the phone makers can optimize their devices better for things like power consumption and overall performance. However, don’t expect them to ditch chips from Qualcomm and MediaTek entirely.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies aren’t the only ones working on in-house chips. Google is also rumored to be making a custom smartphone silicon for the Pixel 6. You can read more about what you can expect from it here.

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