Launching open architecture, a key step for MediaTek’s 5G breakthrough Qiu Xiaofen

This architecture is a very important attempt by MediaTek, and it even hides MediaTek’s next step to break through in the 5G era.

Author丨Qiu Xiaofen

Editor丨Su Jianxun

In the chip circle, MediaTek, which takes the route of encircling cities from the countryside to the city, has recently offered another “killer feature.”

Not long ago, MediaTek launched its flagship product Dimensity 5G “Open Architecture”. To understand it simply, MediaTek has opened up part of the underlying architecture of Dimensity chips. Mobile phone manufacturers using the “Dimensity 1200” chip can customize the chip according to their own needs. A deeper level of customization.

For example, a mobile phone SoC (System on Chip) includes components such as CPU, GPU, and ISP (Image Signal Processor). Manufacturers can freely manage the power consumption of these components. For example, for some game phones that do not pay much attention to camera functions, manufacturers can choose to reduce the power consumption priority of image-related components such as ISP and APU, so that the CPU and GPU can perform more functions.

Furthermore, for the function of camera, using MediaTek’s “Dimensity Open Architecture Platform”, mobile phone manufacturers can also customize ISP’s different anti-shake, correction, and color adjustment algorithm parameters to achieve image algorithm differentiation.

However, the range that can be adjusted is far more than that, including Bluetooth compatibility, AI, multimedia, and so on.

In essence, what MediaTek provides is not a brand-new chip, but gives terminal manufacturers a higher level of adjustment authority to make further substitutions and adjustments to algorithms/software, and does not include direct hardware-level customization of the chip. For example, mobile phone manufacturers cannot request to change GPUs or change architecture routes.

It seems that this news has not caused much discussion, but in fact, this architecture is a very important attempt by MediaTek, and it even hides the next step for MediaTek to break through in the 5G era.

Launching open architecture, a key step for MediaTek's 5G breakthrough Qiu Xiaofen

MediaTek Chip

In the 2G era, MediaTek broke through by integrating a complete set of multimedia solutions to make chips into standard, cheap, and fast-produced products. This has been welcomed by mobile phone manufacturers. You don’t need to worry about chips, you only need to focus on good channels and design, and the production efficiency of mobile phones is greatly enhanced.

In the 5G era, thinking has changed again. The supply chain system of mobile phone manufacturers is quite mature. In recent years, various mobile phone manufacturers have competed in design and graphics. However, since the core technology and chips are basically from the same self-supply chain, the degree of homogeneity of the finished products is very high, and the competition is quite involuntary.

“Open architecture” is the right medicine for the homogenization of mobile phone manufacturers. Mobile phone manufacturers can make differentiated adjustments to SoC power consumption, image resolution and other parameters, and AI capabilities, so that the core chip parameters of different mobile phones are different.

In fact, if mobile phone manufacturers want to change homogeneity, nothing is more effective than starting with chips. This is also the reason why Xiaomi , OPPO, and vivo are all researching cores to eliminate external force majeure interference. Huawei’s previous cases are also sufficient. It proves the significance of working hard on the chip for the high-end brand.

However, there is a long way to go to build their own SoC, and even if they start with a simple ISP, it is quite laborious for mobile phone manufacturers. Millet previous surging C1 Fengyun ISP, internal millet spent several one hundred engineers, it was developed by working hard year, and the final yield is also very limited. OPPO will also use Xiaomi’s approach. Related sources told 36Kr that OPPO will also launch a self-developed ISP chip next.

Self-developed chips take too long, and ” open architecture” may not be a compromise option at the moment. Although MediaTek’s open architecture currently does not include adjustments at the hardware level, in the long run, it will not rule out a wider degree of customization in the future, which will also complement the self-research results of some chips of mobile phone manufacturers.

In addition, MediaTek’s “open architecture” is essentially a new exploration of the relationship between mobile phone manufacturers and chip suppliers. In the past, the cooperation model between chip manufacturers and mobile phone manufacturers was simple and rude. Mobile phone manufacturers accepted ready-made chip products. If there are subsequent improvements and adjustments, they need to pay more, and the cost is not low.

In cooperation with large chip manufacturers, mobile phone manufacturers do not have a high right to speak. A typical example is the generation of “Qualcomm Tax”. Mobile phone manufacturers use Qualcomm chips and need to pay a certain percentage of royalties for Qualcomm’s research and development. Under the open architecture, MediaTek also reserves a part of the right to speak in chips for mobile phone manufacturers.

From the perspective of commercial competition, Qualcomm, which “squeezed toothpaste” in the mid- and low-end chip market, has basically stabilized the flagship market. After each chip of Qualcomm is released, major mobile phone manufacturers must fight for the start. For mobile phone manufacturers, Qualcomm’s high-end chips have become an important selling point to some extent.

Since last year, MediaTek has outflanked Qualcomm in terms of shipments by intensively releasing mid-to-low-end chips. According to a report released by Counterpoint at the end of 2020, MediaTek’s Q3 market share reached 31%, making it the largest smartphone SoC supplier.

Although it has initially opened up the market, MediaTek’s dilemma is that chip shipments are mainly in the low-end and mid-range. It has to compete with Qualcomm in the high-end market. MediaTek has shown the “differentiation” and “customization” brand.

Samsung has already proved the feasibility of this kind of cooperation.

For current mobile phone manufacturers seeking to fight for high-end, Qualcomm chips are far from enough to demonstrate their own R&D capabilities. In fact, mobile phone manufacturers have already started this similar customization attempt by MediaTek, doing joint research and development with upstream manufacturers that have mastered core technologies.

Including, Xiaomi previously cooperated with Samsung on the research and development of 100 million pixel image sensor, vivo has customized Exynos 980 and Exynos1080 with Samsung for two consecutive years, directly participating in the pre-definition stage of the chip, supporting the high-end flagship products of the two manufacturers Wire. Samsung has found a new wealth code , and there will be more and more cases of this kind of joint customization in the future.

However, whether MediaTek’s “open architecture” can continue to play a role in opening up the high-end market depends on the acceptance of mobile phone manufacturers.

Perhaps the biggest problem with “open architecture” applications is cost. The cost of chip research and development is very high, and it needs to be smoothed out by subsequent shipments. Under the “open architecture”, mobile phone chips have changed from standard products to non-standard products, and each product has thousands of people. This also adds more debugging costs to MediaTek than before, and the final chip purchase cost. Will also rise. How to choose between the cost and the selling point of the mobile phone requires the mobile phone manufacturer to make a balance.

Soon after the “open architecture” was launched, mobile phone manufacturers have already adopted it, such as the OnePlus Nord 2 released on July 22. However, due to the limited customization, it is only used in the mid-end product line for the time being, and the price is not expensive.

Sun Yanbiao, a veteran in the mobile phone industry, told 36 krypton that mobile phone manufacturers will not be stupid enough to gamble with product lifelines. Can open architecture become a selling point for subsequent mobile phone manufacturers? More manufacturers need to develop and jointly discover its advantages and disadvantages. . Of course, more importantly, the “open architecture” actually puts forward higher requirements for the subsequent research and development capabilities of mobile phone manufacturers.

How to use it or not will test the imagination of mobile phone manufacturers.

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