More competition in the processor market is a good thing -- and it means that chips could get faster and cheaper.
Many of the major smartphone manufacturers have developed quite a dependence on Qualcomm over the years, but a growing number are breaking away and building their own chips. The latest to follow in the footsteps of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei, is Xiaomi. Its chip is almost ready for official announcement, and is currently known as Pinecone.
Following rumors and speculation, Xiaomi has called a press conference for February 28, where it will officially reveal the Pinecone processor. In a forum post, Xiaomi notes the Pinecone name isn’t final, and is simply a direct translation from the Chinese codename for the chip. Prior to this, news of the chip’s impending arrival came from a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The timing puts the chip’s announcement during Mobile World Congress, but Xiaomi doesn’t have an official presence at the show this year, and will hold the press conference in Beijing. We don’t know how long it will take for Xiaomi to use the chip in a new phone, but rumors place the forthcoming Xiaomi Mi 6‘s announcement for March, making it a possible candidate.
These days, almost every device manufacturer that isn’t Apple, Samsung, or Huawei relies on Qualcomm for its high-end processors. Sometimes, that presents issues. For example, the Snapdragon 810 got a little hotter than usual, and most manufacturers were left with few alternatives. Even Samsung, which has its Exynos chip division, still uses Qualcomm chips a lot of the time.
Sometimes, supply is also an issue. Samsung is one of the major manufacturers of Qualcomm’s chips, and is expected to be the only company with access to the Snapdragon 835 for quite some time — leaving other manufacturers without Qualcomm’s flagship processor option for a while.
It will be interesting to see how Xiaomi’s processor efforts affect its business model. The company has so far struggled to launch as a real competitor in the West, despite making headlines with devices like the Xiaomi Mi Mix.
Article originally published on 02-10-2017. Updated on 02-20-2017 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of the Pinecone’s February 28 launch event