A chip, also known as a microcircuit, refers to a silicon chip that contains an integrated circuit inside. It is this silicon wafer with the size of a fingernail that has always been a major problem that has plagued the development of my country’s integrated circuit industry. Especially since last year, ZTE and Huawei have encountered “cutoffs” of chips and operating systems respectively, which once again highlights this dilemma, that is, the crucial chip technology is controlled by others.
In fact, the core of the technology gap between China and the United States is the semiconductor industry. From smartphones and smart speakers to state-of-the-art supercomputers and driverless cars, all of them do not need the support of the developed integrated circuit industry. Due to well-known reasons, the chip competition between China and the United States is becoming more and more fierce, especially in the smartphone industry. In addition to HiSilicon standing on the front line against Qualcomm, MediaTek has always played an important role.
There’s no reason for MediaTek to miss the chip race at the leading level
A poignant fact is that compared with the international advanced level, the overall development of my country’s chip industry lags behind by a decade or two. There are both historical reasons for the late start and practical reasons for the deviation of innovative ideas. “Rent” is regarded as a creed, and practice has proved that core technology cannot be bought.
So the question is, what are the main aspects of the chip gap between China and the United States? Ni Guangnan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, pointed out that the chip gap between China and the United States is mainly concentrated in two aspects: chip design and chip manufacturing.
In terms of chip design, my country’s chip design level ranks second in the world, second only to the United States. However, there are shortcomings in design tools. Chip design needs to rely on Electronic design automation tools, mainly controlled by three American companies. In terms of chip manufacturing, including manufacturing process and manufacturing equipment, China’s capabilities are still weak. Most of the leading companies currently come from the United States, Japan and other countries. 80% of the equipment of Chinese chip manufacturers needs to be imported from abroad.
In the face of problems such as internal shortcomings and external blockades, if China’s chip technology and industry want to achieve breakthroughs, they must make efforts from two aspects: one is to concentrate efforts to break through key core technologies. The development of key core technologies is often made from scratch. In the process of growing from small to large, there must be mental preparation that “the bench will be cold for ten years”; the second is to do a good job of market guidance, the development of core technologies is inseparable from the support of the market, and domestic independent research and development chips can only be tested and tempered by the market , in order to continue to mature.
Taking the smartphone industry as an example, regardless of the popularity of domestic manufacturers, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo are among the top five in the world, but there are also certain potential risks under the highlights, that is, the core chips are too dependent on Qualcomm. It is true that they maintain normal business dealings with Qualcomm, but they cannot take the use of Qualcomm chips for granted. In the context of the Sino-US trade war, all variables are possible.
In other words, from the perspective of supply chain security, Huami OV has to guard against it and make another preparation for chip supply. Qualcomm’s old rival MediaTek is undoubtedly the best choice. China’s burgeoning chip industry needs the participation of this general. In addition to its R&D strength in the chip field, MediaTek also occupies a certain position in the global chip field new technology standardization organization. Its chip terminals that respond to market demand have also repeatedly become star products.
Take the Helio G90 series released by MediaTek at the end of July as an example. It focuses on gaming experience and is known as a “small steel gun for gaming”. It has two highlights of powerful performance and excellent gaming experience. In terms of performance, the main competitor of the Helio G90 series is the Snapdragon 700 series. Although performance is important to mobile game users, the game interaction experience is the most interesting part for users. The MediaTek HyperEngine chip-level game optimization engine is a trump card for MediaTek to enter the game market. It even outperforms its flagship rival, the Snapdragon 855, in terms of game network latency optimization, control response speed, game image quality, stable frame control, and power consumption.
Bottom Line MediaTek: A Hidden IC Giant
When it comes to MediaTek, many people’s cognition is still stuck in smartphone chip manufacturers. To be precise, MediaTek is the fourth-ranked chip design company in the world. It is a hidden chip giant that surpasses Samsung and HiSilicon. Its strength should not be underestimated, and mobile phone chips are only one of its business items. After the establishment of the smart home business group at the beginning of this year, MediaTek has formed a troika development situation, that is, the three business groups of wireless products, smart devices and smart home each contribute 1/3 of the company’s revenue.
The overall layout of MediaTek can be summarized into two keywords: 5G and AI. As we all know, this year is the first year of 5G, and the commercial use of 5G brings huge market opportunities. MediaTek has also maintained its leadership and released the world’s first 7nm SoC with integrated 5G baseband at the end of May this year. It plans to send samples in Q3 this year and ship in Q1 next year. This product can be described as the best 5G SoC with highly integrated 5G baseband.
In fact, mobile phone chips should not only focus on CPU and GPU, APU (independent AI processor, Huawei calls it NPU) is also an important part that cannot be ignored. For example, the biggest highlight of the Helio P90 released in December last year is its super AI computing power. The Zurich Al-benchmark test showed that its AI score ranked first for half a year, higher than the Snapdragon 845 and Kirin 980. , OPPO Reno Z equipped with Helio P90 has outstanding performance in night noise reduction and photo color.
With the release of the Helio G90 series and the stunning appearance of the HyperEngine game engine technology, MediaTek has sounded the horn to build a game ecosystem, and the endorsement by Tencent makes it more confident to expand the incremental chip market. It is reported that the two parties will carry out in-depth cooperation to build the MT-Storm multi-network acceleration engine, and MediaTek will provide chip-level support, which is specially optimized for Tencent’s “Honor of Kings” and “Peace Elite” and other popular games.
In terms of smart devices, the industry’s hottest AIoT is one of MediaTek’s focus. In order to seize this billion-level connection market, MediaTek released the AIoT platform i300 and i500 series processor chips in April this year, mainly for smart homes and smart cities. and smart factories to provide solutions in three areas. Its NeuroPilot is not specifically designed for smartphone chips, it is a cross-device, cross-OS platform.
MediaTek can be seen in all kinds of smart IoT devices. Taking smart speakers in fierce battles as an example, Amazon Echo, Tmall Genie, and Xiaodu smart speakers are all masterpieces of MediaTek’s AIoT solutions. In addition to AIoT, ASIC (customized special-purpose chips) and Automotive (automotive solutions) also bring good benefits to the company. The 7nm 56G PAM4 SerDes IP launched by the former can be applied to high-precision technology products of switches and data centers. It is reported that it has also established strategic cooperation for the top Cisco, Juniper and H3C in this field. The latter focuses on the three areas of cockpit electronics, in-vehicle information services and radar.
In terms of smart home, Zhang Yutai, general manager of MediaTek’s smart home business group, said that in the future, TV is not only a device for watching TV programs, but also a Display device that seamlessly connects many scenes, and will become a home smart housekeeper with the advantage of a large screen. Recently, Honor, TCL, and Hisense have competed to develop smart screens, which just confirms his point of view. MediaTek has always been the champion of smart TV chips. Sony, Panasonic, TCL, and Skyworth all use MediaTek chips. Including the recent entry into the TV field, OnePlus has also invested in the arms of MediaTek.
The smart home business group includes three business directions: TV chips, Display chips and timing controllers. Among them, TV chips account for 80% of the revenue of the entire business group, and it cannot be overemphasized. In July this year, MediaTek launched the S900, an 8K chip solution based on smart TVs, and brought in partners such as Xiaomi, TCL, Changhong, Skyworth, and Hisense to continue to expand its circle of friends.
It is foreseeable that the three arrows will help MediaTek to climb steadily, and it will also refresh the public’s inherent perception of it, and the future will be stable. In the words of You Renjie, general manager of MediaTek’s smart device business group, among semiconductor companies, it is difficult to find a company that spans three platforms at the same time, and occupies a pivotal market position in each platform.
Chip technology is the commanding height of modern information technology and is related to national competitiveness and information security. In the short term, my country’s chip industry will be in a stage of making up for shortcomings and catching up. With the continuous innovation of chip manufacturers represented by MediaTek, it will help China to have more confidence in the Sino-US chip competition and effectively avoid being A hearted person is stuck in the neck.
Of course, the development of the chip industry has a long way to go. It is necessary to make mental preparations for long-term investment. Only with strong determination and determination, can MediaTek achieve technological self-reliance and self-improvement one day. In the process of the chip industry becoming bigger and stronger, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that MediaTek is not only a chip manufacturer dealing with mobile phone manufacturers, but its business layout and grand ambitions should not be underestimated. A lot can be done.
Author: Gong Jinhui