While this is bad news for Qualcomm it will impact MediaTek first as Xiaomi is beginning with a more modest application processor (APU) for use in budget smartphones. In the medium-term Xiaomi is expected to continue to use a Qualcomm-supplied modem for smartphone connections.
The development was reported by the Korean Times last week which referenced a unnamed component partner of Xiaomi as its source. "Xiaomi plans to release its in-house Rifle-dubbed mobile APUs at a company event, which has been set to take place May," an official at Xiaomi's component partner said, Monday. The Xiaomi APUs have been designed using a standard license from ARM, the report added.
This is taken to imply that it has worked up a design based around ARM-supplied cores rather than designing its own ARM-compliant core.
Xiaomi's move to start developing its own APUs means it is following in the footsteps of market leaders Apple and Samsung, which have developed their own chips. Huawei and LG Electronics also plan to use their own APUs.
Xiaomi has a press event for the launch of some phones planned for May 10 in Beijing and this is when the company is expected to also announce Rifle.
What will be more interesting is how complex Rifle is and what sort of roadmap the company is working to. The complexity will be shown in terms of the number of cores and manufacturing and whether Xiaomi is working the trailing-edge at 28nm CMOS where it could work with many foundries including SMIC or pushing forward towards the 20nm or 16nm FinFETs which would favor partnership with TSMC.
Related links and articles: