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OPPO,vivo into the office cell phone chip? A great adventure of "nine dead life"

via:CnBeta     time:2019/9/19 10:01:26     readed:104

Phoenix New Media Science and Technology Phoenix News client of the "Wind Eye" depth report Group

Author Liu Zhengwei edited Yu Hao

Looking at the colleagues and colleagues around him who are getting high salaries and job-hopping one after another, Li Ming also moved his mind.

In early August, the group reported that OPPO started the core-making business, and released many of the chip design engineers' positions, including the SOC design engineer, the chip digital circuit design engineer, the chip verification engineer, the chip front-end design engineer, and so on. Back then, in December 2017, OPPO was registered in Shanghai to set up a "Shanghai Rongsheng Communication Technology Co., Ltd.".

According to the information inquiry of Tian Eye Check, the registered capital of the company is RMB 3 million, and it is 100% owned by OPPO Guangdong Mobile Communications Co., Ltd.OPPO Co-founder and Senior Vice President Kim Le-kin served as General Manager and Executive Director.

September 2018,Jinsheng Communications will "integrated circuit design and service" into the business project, this move was interpreted as OPPO mobile phone chip business officially launched.According to the public information of the social security, by the end of 2018, the number of people who have been in communication has reached 150.

By the end of 2018, the OPO CEO, Chen Mingyong, said that the R & D funds of the OPO Company in 2019 will be increased from 4 billion yuan in 2018 to 1 billion yuan, and the investment will be increased year by year.Where will the 10 billion yuan go? Nowadays, it is not difficult to understand how to increase R&D funds by a large margin year by year if it is the chip business that burns money in layout.

but (not)VivoIn the past two years, it has also invested heavily in research and development, launching a number of key technologies, such as screen fingerprints, lifting cameras, unbounded waterfall screens, etc., through high-investment, high-tech research and development to create today's well-known NEX flagship mobile phone line, and is one of the first manufacturers to launch 5G handsets.

Its Shanghai R&D center has now settled in Shanghai Pudong Software Park. Also in August, vivo dug into the entrance of Zhanrui's house. Chinese businessman Taoluo reported that,A short message is received by an engineer at the purple display chip, and is informed to take part in the interview of the wafer engineer in the Expo, and the interview site is selected to be the only hotel in the Shanghai office area of the exhibition.

"It's really annoying!" An insider from Ziguang Group confirmed Phoenix Technologies (iFeng Technologies). He also speculated that vivo should be well paid for digging people. According to Fenghuang Science and Technology Query, Zhanrui recently recruited analog chip design engineering posts. The salary range for master's degree is 25,000-42,000 yuan per month.

The two companies declined to comment. But there's a sign that it's a signal,Following Huawei and Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo are also starting to make cell phone chips.

The back of the mobile phone maker's core

Yan Zhanmeng, Director of Counterpoint Research, told Phoenix Technologies.Chips are always the core of consumer electronics, and it's not too late to do them.He said Counterpoint's findings show that smartphone users in other countries care more about the quality of mobile phones, photographs and so on, but Chinese users care most about smartphone chips.

At the same time, a communications industry analyst told Phoenix New Media Technology (WeChat search: iFeng Technology) that about half a year ago, the head of vivo's strategic department had consulted him if vivo wanted to make components and invest in what areas it was more appropriate to invest in chips, storage, screens or cameras. The suggestion given by the person at the time was to make chips on the grounds that it was easier to make market differentiation.

In recent years, Huawei Hess chip has achieved great success, especially after being interrupted by the supply, also announced that there is "spare tire", business will not be affected too much.This series of events makes other manufacturers aware of the need for independent chip research and development capabilities, but also a core technology to make product differentiation.

In early 2017, at the launch of the surging S1 processor held by Millet,Speaking of Xiaomi's original intention of designing chips, Lei Jun, chairman, said that chips are the commanding point of mobile phone technology. Xiaomi must master core technology if he wants to become a great company.

Each generation of mobile communication technology changes, will bring a new round of mobile phone brand shuffle, upstream chip manufacturers will also re-divide forces. With the advent of 5G era, the importance of chips has become more prominent.

In April this year, in Qualcomm and QualcommAppleafter a settlement,IntelImmediately announced to withdraw from the 5G smartphone modem business market. This means that there is one less player in the world's 5G smartphone baseband chip, and Huawei is the only one who can compete.SamsungQualcomm, United Development Section and exhibitors.

In the first half of this year, there was a heated discussion around the true and false 5G mobile phones in the industry. The reason behind this is that 5G mobile phones are divided into two access modes.China Mobile Communication CorpExecutives publicly said that since January 1, 2020, 5G terminals must have SA mode, and NSA mode mobile phones will not be accessible.

On the market, only Huawei has a 5g phone that supports both nsa and sa models, and will launch the mate 30 series on september 19th, with the latest kylin 990 processor and dual-mode support.

In other camps, Qualcomm's dual-mode 5G baseband MX55 will not be shipped commercially until the first quarter of next year. Samsung's Exynos 980, which integrates 5G baseband, has just started delivering samples and started mass production at the end of this year. The first batch of terminals carrying the 5G Mobile Platform of Mediated Development Section was launched in the first quarter of 2020.

Huawei, which has a self-research chip, is not only on the way to the 5G mobile phone, but also on the front of the manufacturer, including Apple, Samsung, etc., and it also has the advantage of building an end-to-end full-scene experience in the IoT field.

The 5G era will lead to the development of IoT Internet of Things devices. Mobile phone manufacturers are now not only selling mobile phones, but also launching smart headphones, smart watches and other smart devices. Since last year, OV has been deployed in this area. Unified chips can better connect multiple devices.

Some people in the industry put forward a popular saying, Huawei has its own Kirin chip, this is like a private car, the autonomy is stronger; relying on the high-pass, the mobile phone manufacturer of the MediaTek can only wait for the bus to the station, it is difficult to differentiate, and also more passive, It's even said that, once the extreme event has been broken, it will be caught in the neck.

Research and Development of Chip with Nine Deaths

"if you make your own chip, you really need a lot of investment." Ziguang Group sources mentioned above said. Money may not be a problem for OPPO and vivo, but a cold reality,Chip is an industry with high technology threshold, long R&D cycle and longer investment return cycle.It is no exaggeration to describe a bench as a cold seat for ten years and a lifetime of nine deaths.

When Xiaomi first announced that he would make chips, Lei Jun had already made psychological preparations: "It is estimated that he would have to invest more than one billion US dollars. If this one billion RMB starts, it will take you 10 years to get results." In April this year, after several failed chips, Pineapple Electronics Team, which is responsible for the development of millet chips, separated into a new company, Nanjing Dayu Semiconductor, and financed independently.

Huawei laid out earlier. Hayes was founded in October 2004, its predecessor can be traced back to the ASIC Design Center set up by Huawei in 1991, specializing in the design of "Application specific Integrated Circuits" (Application-specific integrated circuit,ASIC).

In the early days of its establishment, Hess faced great pressure. After all, its competitors upgraded from Ericsson, Nokia and other systems companies to a series of international chip giants, such as Qualcomm, Broadcom and Marvell. What welcomed Hess was the technical and financial difficulties.

In fact, it is difficult to make chips, not that it is as simple as getting an authorization from ARM or buying drawings directly, and then changing the design to Tepco or a contract manufacturer. The design of mobile phone chip integrates a series of components such as CPU,GPU,Wi-Fi module, communication baseband, GPS module, ISP,DSP and so on.

At the same time, it is also a road full of choices, which needs to predict the development trend of the industry two or three years in advance, the choice of technology, the choice of core, including the choice of communication specifications, every step is like treading on thin ice. Huawei Fellow Aiwei once said,"Each generation of products meets the technical challenges, from the Kirin 920, the Kirin 930, the Kirin 950, the Kirin 960, the Kirin 970, and the Kirin 980. And all the way, and even the sense of a lifetime.".

Take Kirin 980 as an example. Since the project was launched in 2015, Haisi has gathered more than 1000 Senior Semiconductor experts to participate in the project, and has carried out more than 5,000 engineering validations, with an initial investment of more than 300 million US dollars. This is a result of a large amount of experience accumulated in the early stage, which has reduced the cost. It can be said that it is totally piled up with money, time and people.

Huawei's latest kylin 990 chip is also a two-year start-up research and development. This SoC, with a 7-nm EUV process, has more than 103 billion transistors integrated on a nail-size chip, and integrates a 5G baseband chip and its own Da Vinci architecture, NPU, which is difficult to imagine. Even a common 12 nm process with a 30 nm process is not something that a general enterprise can dye.

After the drawings are designed, they need to be streamed, and a streaming cost at least tens of millions of dollars. If you can't complete the streaming test, the design drawings will have to be pushed back, and the money will drift away. In order to save R&D investment, some small and medium-sized companies in the industry have to unite and share the costs.

in an interview with Yang Lan, that chairman of the group of purple light group, Zhao Weiguo, said,A smallest chip design company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars, and if it comes to more advanced manufacturing, a factory will cost as much as ten billion dollars.

"There are some companies in the process of making a chip, and in essence, I think it's a good thing," said Chuqing, a mobile phone manufacturer, in a media interview. It is a proof that they start to focus on the chip and begin to focus on the core competitiveness.

But he also poured cold water. Mobile phone manufacturers'models are short-term, while chips are long-term. It's difficult for these two different models to be compatible with the same company.

High investment, high risk, long return cycle, the road of self-research, this sounds a great risk.

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