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Smartphone vendors turn to chip sector for cutting edge

  • Author:Linki
  • Source:https://www.chinadaily.com.cn
  • Release on:2019-12-04
Smartphone vendors turn to chip sector for cutting edge

An increasing number of Chinese smartphone vendors are marching into the chip sector, after realizing the importance of in-house research and development capabilities for the semiconductor sector.

Vivo, a major smartphone vendor, for instance, joined hands with South Korean tech giant Samsung to unveil a 5G chip in November, marking the former's latest push to showcase its increasing emphasis on enhanced research and development capabilities.

The Exynos 980 chip, which was jointly developed by the two companies, will debut on Vivo's X30 smartphone later this year.

Zhou Wei, vice-president of Vivo, said the two sides have cooperated closely with each other to improve the efficiency of product development. As a result, the X30 model, powered by Exynos 980, can hit the market two to three months ahead of schedule.

The Exynos 980 chip supports both non-standalone (NSA) and stand-alone (SA) networking modes, making it the second dual-mode 5G chip after Huawei's Kirin 990 5G. NSA and SA are two ways of constructing a 5G network, with the former still relying on existing 4G infrastructure for some functions.

Currently, most 5G smartphones unveiled in China only support NSA mode. But China will kick off the large-scale construction of an SA 5G network soon, so that 5G phones will have to support both modes in the future.

Vivo said more than 500 of its research and development engineers have partnered with Samsung in the past 10 months to jointly develop the chip. It has shared more than 400 features and functions it had accumulated with Samsung to complement the latter's platform.

Exynos 980 has an integrated 5G modem, which can enable a peak downloading speed of 2.55 Gbps in sub-6 GHz spectrum. It also can greatly improve energy efficiency.

Smartphone vendor Xiaomi Corp is also intensifying its inputs in the sector.

In 2014, Xiaomi founder Lei Jun termed the chip segment the "crown of the smartphone sector". Three years on, he has his own jewel in that crown - the Surge 1, Xiaomi's first in-house chip.

The technology tycoon has fond and vivid memories of a momentous instant that signifies Xiaomi's entry into the chip sector.

He recalls a night in September 2015 when, at 1:40 am, in a trial, the Surge 1 enabled the first call between a group of engineers and Lei. "My heart was surging with excitement at that moment. That's how the chipset got its name."

James Yan, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, says that although the Surge 1 is still at the entry level, Xiaomi's attempts to make inroads into the competitive industry highlight its determination to differentiate its products from a crowd of rivals and to seek growth via innovation.