The chipset market is a small one that’s growing smaller over time, since manufacturing SoCs for smartphones isn’t an easy task. With the segment dominated by a handful of players including Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, TSMC and Huawei-owned HiSilicon, there isn’t much room for other players to get involved. However, it seems that Xiaomi is planning to take its experimental foray into chipset development forward this year. The company is reportedly working with Taiwan-based TSMC to produce its own Surge S2 chipset.
Xiaomi’s first attempt at chipset development came last year in February, when it built the Surge S1, also in partnership with TSMC. The chipset featured eight cores built on ARM Cortex A53 architecture on a 28nm fabrication process. The Surge S2, on the other hand, is expected to be significantly improved, thanks to a combination of Cortex A53 and Cortex A75 processors, and either a 16nm or 10nm fabrication process. The chipset would expectedly power mid-range devices for Xiaomi, and will function as an alternative to the MediaTek and Qualcomm chipsets that the company currently heavily relies on.
A move to its own custom chipsets will reduce Xiaomi’s dependence on third-party chipset manufacturers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek, and also reduce production costs for its devices. Additionally, Xiaomi would be able to better optimize the chipsets for its own phones, something that it does not have the luxury of with third-party chipset makers.
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The first device to be powered by a Surge chipset was last year’s Xiaomi Mi 5C, which ran on the Surge S1. Although it wasn’t the most successful of devices, the continued development of the Surge program could see Xiaomi eventually bring its more popular phones onto Surge chipsets as well. The Surge S1 SoC suffered to some extent by being on the 28nm manufacturing process at a time when 14nm was becoming popular for mid-range and budget devices, so a move to 10nm could finally give the Surge chipset program the impetus it needs.