Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has developed a new ‘state-of-the-art’ imaging chip for use in its own devices.
The chip, called the MariSilicon X, is a neural processing unit (NPU) that improves images for video and photography taken on smartphones and signals the firm’s move into the semiconductor sector.
It will be manufactured using Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s 6-nanometre process technology and used in the company’s upcoming Find X series of smartphones, set to hit the market in early 2022.
Oppo is one of China’s top phone brands, occupying 21% of the domestic market as of the third quarter of 2021, according to research firm Canalys.
The company is owned by BBK Electronics, which also owns Vivo, another top-selling Chinese smartphone brand. The two companies compete for customers, but have an overlapping supply chain.
Both firms are investing heavily in the chip sector. In addition to MariSilicon X, Oppo has also developed a power management chip that it uses for some of its chargers.
In September, Vivo announced it had developed an image signal processor chip (ISP) it will use in its phones.
The chip efforts dovetail with a government push for Chinese companies to boost the country’s domestic chip sector, which for decades has lagged behind that of the United States and other East Asian economies.
The need for a self-sufficient chip industry came to light last year when US sanctions against Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies prevented the company from sourcing key components.
The measures crippled the company’s smartphone division, as well as its in-house chip division HiSilicon, once the only Chinese unit developing smartphone processors that could rival those of Qualcomm.
Governments and companies around the world have been scrambling to boost semiconductor production after a global shortage hit manufacturing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara