Surge S1 chip gives Xiaomi the hardware edge

With an in-house chip, new products can be rolled out quickly, and the new Xiaomi Mi 5c is a testament to that


The first phone running the Surge S1 has been announced. It is called the Xiaomi Mi 5c—it has a 5.15-inch display, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, 12-megapixel camera and supports the 9V2A fast charging feature.
The first phone running the Surge S1 has been announced. It is called the Xiaomi Mi 5c—it has a 5.15-inch display, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, 12-megapixel camera and supports the 9V2A fast charging feature.

Chinese technology giant Xiaomi has, as expected for a while now, unveiled its own chipset. It is known as the Surge S1. It is Xiaomi’s first in-house chipset and this reduces the reliance on partners such as Qualcomm and MediaTek.

However, this isn’t the first time a smartphone maker is focusing on making hardware for its products—Samsung, Huawei and Apple have done it before, and continue to do so for many of their products.

The Surge S1 is an octa-core CPU using an ARM Cortex A53 processor, with the big.LITTLE architecture that comprises of four 2.2GHz cores to handle tough tasks and four 1.4GHz cores work for standard apps and workload. A Mali T-860 MP4 graphics chip has been integrated as well, and is believed to use as much as 40% lesser power than the predecessor graphics chip generation—it will support 4K videos too. The Surge S1 also has the 32-bit DSP supporting the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) feature and 16kHz sampling to deliver high-quality audio and voice calls.

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And right on cue, the first phone running the Surge S1 has been announced. It is called the Xiaomi Mi 5c—it has a 5.15-inch display, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, 12-megapixel camera and supports the 9V2A fast charging feature. Incidentally, this smartphone is only for the Chinese market for the moment, and is priced at $218 (around Rs14,500).

One of the advantages of making the chips in-house is that Xiaomi is now less reliant on chip makers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek. It is believed that the upcoming LG G6 smartphone couldn’t use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip because Samsung and Sony have cornered a large chunk of the inventory for the Galaxy S8 and the Xperia XZ Premium smartphones, respectively. At the same time, having your own hardware allows phone makers to better optimize the software and features—this is something many Android phone makers are attempting to emulate, thanks to Apple’s success. In Xiaomi’s case, their in-house chip means they will potentially be able to use this for other devices which they make, such as televisions.

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