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How high barriers did Huawei build when it used 5G chips on mobile phones?

via:CnBeta     time:2019/9/7 21:31:28     readed:188

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But just two days ago,SamsungClaims also brought the first integrated 5G SoC chip Exynos 980. Further, two other chip giants, Qualcomm and MediaTek, have launched SoC chips for 5G.

According to Yu, the difference between Kirin 9905G is that it encapsulates the separated AP (application processor) and BP (baseband processor) in a chip. Thus,cellphoneNot only is the area smaller, the signal more stable, but it won't heat up. It is generally believed that this integrated SoC chip is the premise of large-scale commercial use of 5G mobile phones and the real 5G mobile phone chip.

Although giants argue over who started the 5G chip, Huawei is the first to really put the integrated 5G chip on the phone.

Huawei Fellow Aiwei told Caijing that in the 5G era, the first question for Huawei is how fast it can move all users of 4G to 5G. Chips determine the performance of mobile phones. Huawei is one step faster than its rivals by getting through the whole system from 5G chips, mobile phones, 5G core networks to base stations.

However, other chip giants, such as Qualcomm and Samsung, are also good at 5G. It is still unknown how much competitive barriers this technological first-mover advantage can bring to Huawei.

How high is the technical barrier?

The lack of hardware innovation has led to longer and longer switching cycles for users. The switching cycle determines the size of the market. In the era of 3G, the average switching period of mobile phone users is 18 months, and after 4G, the switching period is extended to 24 months. The result is that the overall market size has shrunk by a quarter.

Some industry insiders to the "Finance and Economics" reporter expected that when the change cycle into two and a half years, the size of the market will shrink in the same proportion. At that time, it will test the innovation ability of mobile phone manufacturers. The faster the innovation, the more opportunity to expand the brand market share.

Chips are the core of mobile computing and the basis of innovation. Ai Wei believes that only the semiconductor capability can integrate many technologies, and at the same time compress the area, cost and power consumption of the chip, so as to enhance the overall competitiveness of mobile phones.

As a result, when each generational change, the number of mobile phone manufacturers on the chip is much higher, which determines how much advance the mobile phone maker can take.

Samsung, Huawei and the world's top three mobile phone manufacturersappleAll of them have their own chip capabilities. Samsung and Apple all have their own chip platforms, depending on the layout of the whole industry chain, grasping every link and blocking competitors.

This is also the reason why mobile phone manufacturers continue to want to enter the field of chips.millet,OPPO,They have been working on chips. However, chips are high-tech threshold industries, it is difficult to improve in the short term.

Take Xiaomi as an example, Xiaomi released 28nm process SoC chip "surging S1" in 2017. However, the performance of Xiaomi 5C with this chip is not ideal, the second generation chip also encountered the problem of low chip success rate, and since then there has been no following.

Engineering technology is very difficult, and it is difficult to form a reflux of funds, which has been a difficult problem in the chip field. Millet is one of several baseband chip manufacturers in the 4G era. But at present, there are only five chips that can make 5G chips, namely Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, MediaTek and ZhanRui.

The market test is whether manufacturers can come up with smaller, more powerful chips. Qualcomm is the chip overlord of the 4G era, after several generations of change, to integrate the 4G baseband with the processor chip.

And entering 5G, the difficulty of this project doubled.

Wu Junning, senior engineer of the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that power consumption control is the core of integration. The requirements for mobile communication, AI and GPU are higher in the G-5 era. As a result, the throughput rate is up, signal processing is more complex, and power consumption will inevitably increase.

No user wants his 5G phone to be bulky and power-intensive. Therefore, when developing Kirin 9905G, the biggest challenge Huawei faces is how to further improve its performance under the constraints of smaller area and power consumption.

Ai Wei told Caijing that in order to better control the power consumption, Kirin 9905G adopts the self-developed Leonardo da Vinci architecture NPU, and does different work through the combination of large core and micronucleus.

"Some tasks are heavy in power and some are light in power. If we use a big core to process all the time, it is equivalent to using a big truck to carry all the goods, and the power consumption is naturally high." He said.

Power consumption is not only a problem of chip technology, but also a process of terminal and network protocol optimization. When high bandwidth is not needed, mobile phone manufacturers can coordinate with operators to reduce bandwidth to save power consumption. The process is usually tedious and long.

Huawei is the world's largest telecom equipment manufacturer, closely linked with the operators'base stations. This is a natural advantage that no other manufacturer has. Ai Wei said that from last year to now, Huawei has basically run through all 5G communication protocols, optimized many power consumption problems, and has reached the same level as 4G.

And most mobile phone manufacturers and operators of adaptation work is still slow. Qualcomm released its 5G SoC feature platform in February, and it is expected that other manufacturers will not be able to launch phones with integrated SoC chips until the first half of 2020.

What are the market opportunities?

With the advent of the change tide, whoever can transfer 4G users to 5G faster will seize the first chance. Huawei is one step faster than its rivals by getting through the whole system from 5G chips, mobile phones, 5G core networks to base stations.

Some industry insiders pointed out that 5G integrated chips put Huawei ahead of the industry for six to eight months. But it is hard to say whether this technology's first-mover advantage can build strong enough barriers to competition for Huawei.

Wu Junning believes that Samsung and Qualcomm have considerable capabilities in 7-nm chip fabrication compared with Huawei. Connection technology has always been Qualcomm's strong point. With the support of 5G network, Qualcomm has huge R&D investment. More than 40% of mobile phones worldwide carry Qualcomm's chip solutions.

These manufacturers have also taken a radical stance in 5G technology, and have been involved in the early development of Qualcomm 5G chips. According to their own products, continue to optimize the performance. "Stacking on chips alone requires a lot of editions, and eventually a lot of them are scrapped." A 5G technology expert from a domestic mobile phone giant told Finance and Economics.

In addition, the speed of 5G networking is relatively slow. According to the current operator's plan, the large-scale 5G switching trend will be in 2022. At that time, the technology of integrating 5G chips in the industry will also become mature. Whether Huawei can continue to lead depends on whether it can continuously launch leading products.

After all, to measure the future competitiveness of mobile phone manufacturers, in addition to technology, as well as business and market.

According to Ai Wei, Kirin 9905G has strengthened its capabilities in three aspects: first, it has large bandwidth and low latency. The second is AI capability. Thirdly, the basic sensor capability that can make photographs and videos clearer. Next year's new products will certainly be different from this year's.

However, ordinary users do not care about the specific parameters of the chip, they are more concerned about what kind of experience innovation the chip can bring.

Many domestic mobile phone giants believe that with the large-scale commercialization of 5G, the gap between technologies may not be large. What kind of services and experiences can be provided to consumers will be a key point for manufacturers to compete. This requires vendors to develop innovative application scenarios based on 5G, together with operators'networks and application layer vendors.

According to the Financial and Economic reporter, most of the head manufacturers have been introducing application manufacturers and operators since last year to discuss possible application scene platforms in the 5G era.

So far, however, there has been no 5G killer app to overturn 4G. Only when the network and terminal are ready can the application blossom on a large scale. And the real AI capabilities will have to wait until there is a scenario.

At that time, the omni-directional competition will really begin.

Chen Xiaoxiao/Wen Xielirong/Editor of Finance and Economics

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