Oppo joins ranks of smartphone vendors pursuing custom SoCs – Business Insider Nordic
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo — the fifth-largest company by quarterly shipments in the global space — is looking to develop its own mobile chipset designs, according to Android Authority.
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While details on the company’s intentions (dubbed the “Mariana Plan” in internal memos) remain sparse, it appears that Oppo will receive some support from fellow smartphone designers RealMe and OnePlus to develop system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs. This move could allow these companies to reduce or eliminate their dependence on SoC suppliers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek.
Oppo is just the latest high-profile smartphone manufacturer to look to develop its own SoCs — it’s actually the last of the five biggest companies in the market to take this step.
- Huawei outfits several variants of its flagship devices with SoCs produced by its chip design subsidiary, HiSilicon. The company’s Kirin SoC chipsets allow Huawei to design smartphones that are more tailored to the devices’ specific processing hardware. The chipsets also give Huawei an alternative to Qualcomm amid the company’s ongoing issues with US regulators.
- Xiaomi purchased a 6% stake in Shanghai-based semiconductor company VeriSilicon Holdings. That makes it the chipmaker’s second-largest investor and puts Xiaomi in a position to guide development efforts. Xiaomi had created its own custom chips in the past — in 2017, it released a version of its flagship Mi phone that featured an in-house SoC design, the Surge S1 — but its current lineup is, like most of the mobile phone world, highly dependent upon Qualcomm and its Snapdragon chips.
- Apple is perhaps the paragon of in-house chip development. Since 2010, the company has used its own chips, dubbed the A-series, in its iPhones and iPads, wholly circumventing the likes of Qualcomm for SoCs and taking control of almost all of the silicon design for its key devices. Apple’s close integration of chips with hardware and software has allowed the company to create higher-performing devices that generally offer better battery life than competing devices.
- Samsung offers a number of devices powered by its own in-house Exynos SoCs. While the South Korean smartphone titan works closely with Qualcomm, it’s taken steps to establish the basis for an alternative supply chain to strengthen its negotiating position. And its chips offer mostly comparable performance to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs. The relationship between the two companies is complicated by their partnerships in other segments.
Oppo is joining the custom SoC party to give it an alternative to Qualcomm, which could offer it two distinct benefits in the smartphone market.
- It would be in a better negotiating position to source Snapdragon SoCs. Qualcomm is essentially alone at the top of the Android smartphone SoC ecosystem, and for Oppo — as for all those companies listed above — an alternative SoC opens a viable path to walk away from the table.
- Ongoing trade and security tensions between the US and China could see Oppo face issues sourcing chips from US-based companies like Qualcomm. This issue has already affected Huawei, and while Oppo has yet to face similar problems, establishing an alternative supply chain will make the company more resilient to any geopolitical shifts that may arise in the future.
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