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March 1, 2017

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Xiaomi sets out in-house designed chipset

CHINESE smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc announced its first in-house designed chipset yesterday, as it works to streamline production, lower prices and gain greater control over handset design to counter the impact of slowing sales.

The Surge S1, deployed in Xiaomi’s newest smartphone, the Mi 5C, is the first chipset — which manages data flow — from the company’s wholly owned chip research subsidiary, Beijing Pinecone Electronics.

“We need to master the core technologies of our industry and tightly integrate the development of our hardware with our software helping us to make even better smartphones,” Xiaomi Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun said.

Xiaomi was briefly the world’s most valuable startup following its last round of fundraising in 2014. The company has since seen sales tumble as competition from Huawei, Vivo and Oppo heats up.

The firm, which built its empire on budget smartphones, missed its global shipment target by 12 percent in 2015. That was followed by a slide in sales last year that saw it drop out of China’s top-five smartphone vendors.

The in-house chipset is one of a number of projects which Xiaomi hopes will bring users to its ecosystem and lower costs. Other projects include smart home devices and online banking.

The company said it started developing the chipset just over two years ago, and that it is competitive with chipsets in the same range from market leader Qualcomm Inc.

In the process, it hired 200 to 300 people across three cities to work on chipset design, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said in February last year.

Yesterday, Xiaomi said its tests showed the Surge S1 outperformed Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625, a chipset used in a wide range of smartphones including Xiaomi’s Redmi series.

Xiaomi’s announcement comes as the government works to improve China’s chipset-design capabilities through subsidies and other initiatives.



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