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Xiaomi hints at a new custom processor coming next week

It's been several years since Xiaomi launched its first and only custom processor, the Surge S1.

Published onMarch 26, 2021

  • Xiaomi has teased the arrival of a new custom chip next week.
  • This would be Xiaomi’s first custom silicon since 2017’s Surge S1 SoC.

Xiaomi is no stranger to custom chipsets, as it previously released an in-house smartphone SoC in 2017. It’s been a few years, but it looks like the manufacturer could finally have new custom silicon up its sleeve.

Xiaomi posted a teaser on Weibo today, specifically referencing a “self-developed chip” according to machine translation. However, the teaser and posts by various Xiaomi executives all mention the term “surged” or “surging.” 

For the uninitiated, the manufacturer’s first and only commercially available custom smartphone chipset was called the Surge S1. So it certainly sounds like we can expect a new Surge chip then. But what should you expect from this?

The Surge S1 was a full chipset used in the budget Mi 5C back in 2017, so you’d think that a new Surge chip would be a full-blown smartphone processor too. But developing a SoC is a complex, expensive, and time-consuming task. Even companies like Huawei have taken years and loads of releases to eventually deliver high-end processors. So it’s theoretically possible Xiaomi is developing a less ambitious piece of silicon that sits alongside a standard Snapdragon processor. 

We’ve previously seen Google adopt a similar strategy with its Pixel Neural Core and Pixel Visual Core, giving a boost to machine learning and image processing while sitting alongside a flagship Qualcomm SoC. So a custom Xiaomi chip could offer a similarly focused boost while letting a Snapdragon 800-series processor handle everything else.

We won’t have long to wait to actually find out what Xiaomi is offering, as the official Weibo post confirms that we’ll find out more at its March 29 product launch. 

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