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Home > 5G > 5G chip technology competition is hot, who can win

5G chip technology competition is hot, who can win

Published time: 2019-12-20 11:30:35

5G is already the most concerned wireless communication technology in the world, and its impact on the industry is extremely far-reaching. For this reason, all major chip manufacturers are developing 5G related solutions on a large scale, hoping to lay out the future and enhance competitiveness.

Although 5G commercial licenses have been released, China's major telecom operators have also promoted related network planning. However, South Korea has already started commercial 5G networks, with more than one million users and poor 5G service experience in the US. The number of users is small, but it is already considered to be commercial. China's footsteps still seem to be a little slower.

At present, there are still several key points that need to be broken in 5G. From the deployment of base station equipment, the promotion and cooperation of telecom operators, to the semiconductor related technologies such as mobile terminals, it is necessary to complete the 5G ecological closed loop.

At present, the deployment technology of the base station network is relatively mature. The question is whether the speed of deployment can catch up with the needs of users. On the other hand, the development of chips in mobile phones also affects the experience. After Intel went out, there were only 5 players left in the global 5G mobile phone baseband chip players, namely Qualcomm, Huawei, Ziguang Zhanrui, MediaTek, and Samsung. This article mainly looks at the competition situation of the entire 5G market from the chip layout of the five major players.

Qualcomm preemptive layout, but thunder is bigger than rain

Qualcomm has already released the independent 5G baseband X50 as early as 2016. It has been used for three years from the announcement to the official launch. The technology is still excellent when it is announced, but it is a bit outdated in 2019, not only the process used. The technology is backward, and the power consumption is large. The advantage of 5G feature support is not obvious. It only supports non-independent networking (NSA) during the transition period.

The X50 achieves peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second, supports millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28 GHz band, and supports multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antenna technology for adaptive beamforming and beam tracking.

As a pure 5G baseband, the X50 does not include 2G/3G/4G communication functions. For 5G mobile phones using this solution, it is necessary to use a multi-frequency multi-mode 4G baseband mobile phone chip. The first smartphone to use the X50 is the Galaxy S10 5G version, which is also available in a few markets such as Korea and the US, with limited sales.


Subsequent X55 improved the X50's shortcomings, not only increased the independent networking (SA), but also changed the process to 7nm, and added the X50 missing 2/3/4G baseband function back. However, this chip is also announced at the time of publication. Not in mass production, but in the second half of the year, Xiaomi OV also launched a 5G mobile phone based on X55. Samsung's flagship mobile phone Note 10 plus 5G also chose X55. However, X55 is not in the band support and software, resulting in its consumers. The choice of products and network service providers is in confusion. Verizon has even purchased the X50 special specification Note 10+ 5G from Samsung in order to solve its own 5G support problems. It can be seen that Qualcomm's solution problem is still quite large.


On the other hand, Qualcomm's smartphone single chip is currently only supported up to 4G, and the 5G Snapdragon 865 solution will be launched in the first quarter of 2020, and before that, Qualcomm customers can only choose to use the general mobile phone. The chip is matched with the X50 or X55, which is inferior to Huawei's products in terms of cost and energy consumption.

As for the future layout of Qualcomm, Qualcomm announced in the previous period that next year's 6-series Snapdragon chips will be all 5G single-chip solutions, and the first 5G single-chip will be the 7 series.

Huawei takes the lead in sprinting,win the industry's first single-chip 5G solution throne

Huawei has been investing in the development of 5G technology since 2009, and the recently released Kirin 990 can be said to let Huawei stand on the leader in the field of mobile phone chips integrating 5G technology.

However, Huawei is not particularly good at all. In the stage of independent 5G baseband chips, Balong 5G 01 has been announced as early as 2018. Like the X50, Balong 5G 01 is a pure 5G baseband chip. It is also better than the X50 that was introduced later. It not only supports SA and NSA, but also Sub6GHz (low frequency) and mmWave (high frequency). In theory, it can achieve data download speeds of up to 2.3 Gbps.


Subsequent Balong 5000 specifications and X55 benchmarks, mass production is also earlier than X50 mass production, but the actual performance is not strong, Mate X 5G version equipped with this chip, according to the actual measurement of the consumer and research institutions, Balong 5000 performance Quite weak, even behind Qualcomm's X50.

It should be noted that Balong 5000 is manufactured by 7nm process. The poor performance can only be attributed to the fact that the design is still not optimized, and there is no small improvement space.

Although Mate X 5G is affected by the evaluation, Huawei still insists on it as part of the overall 5G mobile phone chip layout.

Subsequently, the Kirin 990 was launched, which integrates the complete baseband function. From 2G to 5G, the main frequency band, SA, NSA function support, almost no omissions, Huawei's accumulated research and development results from Balong 5000 finally blossomed, making Kirin 990 a veritable name. The industry's first.

However, Huawei is now facing a lot of factors. The mobile phone system based on Kirin 990 can no longer carry Google's family bucket, which makes most overseas market sales refuse Huawei. However, Hongmeng's operating system can't replace Android for a while, if only in the Chinese market. Survival, I am afraid that it will have a very negative impact on Huawei's future technology or market layout.

Unlike Qualcomm, Huawei has not mentioned the layout of other Kirin chip products. Will the future 5G solution design penetrate into the Kirin 6/7/8 series, and the official has not released any opinions, but based on experience, the whole line is equipped with 5G baseband. It should be just a matter of time.

Ultra-low-end program king, purple light exhibition, also want to play 5G

Ziguang Zhanrui has been cultivating the low-end mobile phone chip market since the exhibition era. At present, its market share in the low-end market is over 70%. In many emerging countries such as Africa and Southeast Asia, the proportion of mobile phone chips is very high.


However, Ziguang Zhanrui's low-end mobile phone chip shipments are large, but the profit is not particularly high. After all, its sales price is also very low. The reason is that Ziguang Zhan Rui has always been targeting low-cost positioning to seize market space and profit. Under limited circumstances, the capital invested in research and development is also limited. Although Ziguang is supported by the “rich dad”, it is still an indisputable fact that R&D energy is far less than other mainstream mobile phone chip makers.

In the news report of the previous time, Ziguang Zhanrui mentioned that it will launch its own 5G chip in 2020, to help Chinese companies get rid of the restraint of foreign suppliers, but look back at the past product launch and actual market time Two or three years after the release, the opportunity to see chip production and the adoption of mobile phone manufacturers has become the norm, and the 5G solution will definitely be dominated by high-end solutions in the past few years. Consistent low price positioning, eat the market of the future low-end 5G solution.

However, in fact, the reliability of Ziguang's solution has always been low, and mobile phone manufacturers have to take a long time to develop, adapt and debug. If Ziguang has no way to change the inherent problems, it will have a place in the 5G market in the future. Although it can't be said that there is no chance, it will definitely take a long time.

Ziguang Zhanrui's first 5G baseband chip is the Ivyo 510, which complies with the 3GPP Release 15 specification and supports 2G to 5G multimode, 5G NSA non-independent and SA independent networking, Sub-6GHz band, but does not mention 28GHz millimeter wave band support. Whether or not.

In addition, the process technology of the Ivy 510 chip is TSMC 12nm, which is the weakest process in the released 5G baseband chip. The basebands of Qualcomm, Huawei, Intel and Samsung, and MediaTek are generally 10nm and 7nm.

MediaTek is steadily advancing

After MediaTek released the Helio M70, a 5G baseband chip, it is also continuing to advance in a single-chip solution. MediaTek is expected to launch its first single-chip 5G solution based on the 7nm process in 2020.


However, compared with Qualcomm and Huawei, MediaTek's solution is much more conservative. First, its first 5G single chip will only support the Sub6 band and will not support the millimeter wave, so it is not likely to be in the Chinese market. In addition, the chip will also be manufactured at 7nm.

However, according to industry information, MediaTek has more 5G chips already on the line, from the low-end to the high-end products, and with the consistent service technology of MediaTek and the more approachable price of Qualcomm, the past partners, including Huawei Lenovo, ZTE, Xiaomi, OV, etc. may launch related products in the first time.

Of course, Huawei already has Hisilicon, Xiaomi already has pine nuts, and OV also has to develop its own mobile phone chips, but considering the design and manufacture of mobile phone chips to the final package design, it is not a one-off: Songguo, which has a large capital, has not yet launched any successful mobile phone chip products. Although Huawei has Hisilicon, it cannot meet the huge demand of the mobile phone market. Therefore, although the proportion of purchases of MediaTek has declined, the number of purchases continues to increase. OV has no experience in chip development at all, and even if it invests in its own chip development, it is difficult to have actual results. Even Samsung, the rival of the past, is increasing its adoption of MediaTek.

Therefore, through the more approachable price and performance ratio, the market still expects MediaTek to achieve good market results in the first wave of 5G market. On the other hand, the trade friction between China and the United States may also make the future Qualcomm solution more difficult to obtain, and MediaTek has become a perfect substitute at this time, even if the performance is still not at the front line, it is still acceptable. Therefore, MediaTek's weight in the Chinese market is also becoming more and more important.

Samsung 5G solution out of its own closed route, re-supply to Chinese customers

Samsung's Exynos has always been aiming at the development of Qualcomm's solutions, and basically can't lag behind each other in terms of performance or functionality. However, after Samsung's own process delays, 8nm Exynos is naturally taken behind by 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon products, and with Samsung's own 7nm mass production, its own Exynos solution is once again pulled Come on the countertop.


In the past, Samsung also launched a 5G baseband solution. The basic performance is similar to that of Balong 5000. The name is similar to Balong. It is called Exynos Modem 5100, and it is 100 more. In terms of functions, it also supports millimeter waves and other low- and medium-frequency bands, and also supports wireless communication standards below 4G.

Like Huawei HiS, in the past, the Exynos solution, no matter whether it is a mobile phone chip or a baseband, has no external supply. The only exception is Meizu. In the past, Exynos once supplied Meizu to manufacture high-end mobile phones, but with the reconciliation between Meizu and Qualcomm, Samsung was also After all, Samsung's service and support capabilities are far worse than Qualcomm and even MediaTek, which makes product development difficult and costly.

However, with Meizu turning to Qualcomm, its unique temperament has disappeared. It has become another Qualcomm mobile phone solution. The sales volume of Meizu mobile phones has also been declining. At present, the annual sales volume is only about 10 million, and the demand is not strong.

After 2020, Samsung hopes to re-enter the image of the Exynos solution by re-entering the Chinese market. Its upcoming flagship single-chip Exynos 980 will cooperate with vivo to launch high-end mobile phones.

Exynos 980 is actually a little worse in terms of specifications, but the problem is not in the design of the chip, but in the process, Samsung's EUV 7nm seems to be unbearable. After the trial production of Exynos 9825, it may be necessary to prepare for mass production of Qualcomm. Long 860, even the extra capacity of the high-end chips produced by their own has not been.

Although 8nm is still a good process, but compared with 7nm, or even 7nm EUV, it is still shabby, and Samsung may also have achieved the favor of vivo by reducing the price, with excellent chip layout and functional design, first won This customer. However, Samsung's lack of product support remains the same. Whether it can be extended to other mobile phone customers in China, or only to maintain a major customer, I am afraid it remains to be seen.

Tag: chip


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