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5G Mobile Chip: Cost and Duration are the two major challenges that determine the life and death of 5G Chip

Huawei has been announced to bring the latest in the upcoming 2019 IF IF (Aberdeen Consumer Electronics Show) Kirin processor. In the industry’s view, to get rid of the past “external”<5>5G baseband chip, complete integration of 5G functions or become the biggest point of Huawei’s new chip. On September 19th, Huawei will also showcase the Mate 30 series flagship mobile phone, which is the first time Huawei has equipped 5G chips in the new series.

Huawei chose the 5G chip “current front” to take the lead, with 5G chips and 5G phones. For a long time, the smart phone chip has played the role of opening the door of mobile communication, and is the golden key for 5G mobile phone commercial use. Recently, competitions such as Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi, OPPO and other mobile phone companies have started on 5G mobile phones. And each generation of communication revolution is like a reshuffle, Nokia’s decline, Apple’s ride on the trend is a classic case of the early years.

In fact, behind the scenes of mobile phone chip companies, this is not the case, in April this year, the global chip giant Intel announced the withdrawal of the 5G mobile phone chip industry, the corresponding business was transferred to Apple. “5G chip is too difficult “Compared with the 4G era, the difficulty is higher than that of a Everest. In the contact with the reporter of “Daily Economic News”, many insiders expressed similar views.

5G mobile phone business competition, the 5G chip behind it has become the most critical part. As of September 2, there are five 5G mobile phones that can be purchased in the domestic market, one of which is equipped with Huawei 5G chip, the other four are equipped with Qualcomm chip. Zhang Yan, head of Qualcomm China related business, told the reporter of “Daily Economic News” that the current commercial 5G mobile phone chip basically adopts the “plug-in” method. More is to quickly seize the market’s transition products, early next year, integrated 5G baseband SOC (system-on-a-chip) will be available.

and whether it is “plug-in” “No,The large power consumption has become the biggest constraint for 5G chip commercial use. In a continuous 5G signal environment, 5G mobile phones are only used for one-third of the 4G mobile phones. On the other hand, Chen Guanzhou, general manager of MediaTek, told reporters that the high cost of 5G chips has led to the natural high cost of 5G mobile phones, which will lengthen the time for 5G mobile phones to reach the thousand yuan.

Qualcomm, Huawei Commercial Fight

Operator exhibits at an event 5G chip
Operator exhibits at an event 5G chip

On the grounds that no clear profitable route can be found,Intel announced that it has withdrawn from the 5G mobile phone baseband chip business and transferred the relevant patent to Apple, the only customer of the business. With the withdrawal of Intel, the only companies that have developed 5G chips worldwide are Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, MediaTek and Ziguang. Among them, Huawei and Samsung 5G chips are often used in their own products. Only Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Ziguang Zhanrui, which are really selling 5G chips to the market, are only available.

In the 20 years from 2G to 4G communication, there are new players in the mobile phone baseband chip industry. Broadcom, NVIDIA, Freescale, Texas Instruments, Marvell and many other chip makers have gradually withdrawn from the mobile phone baseband chip market. In the 5G era, there are fewer and fewer mobile phone chip suppliers, which proves that the threshold of the 5G era is high.

Experiencing long-distance running, the 5G chip industry is currently showing the top five hegemony pattern. This includes the Huawei Barron 5000, Samsung Exynos 5100, and Qualcomm X50, which are currently commercially available.In addition, MediaTek Helio M70 and Ziguang Exhibition Ruichun 510 also released commercial plans. Apple and the “old family” Qualcomm reached a contract, but the industry is expected to see the emergence of Apple’s 5G mobile phone this year.

The functions of 5G chips can be roughly divided into two categories, one is the processing of multimedia data, and the other is the reception and transmission of communication signals. The multimedia information processing function has long existed in the smart phone chip. Providing the 5G signal is the substantial change of the 5G baseband chip, and also determines the difference between the 5G mobile phone and the 4G mobile phone. Zhang Yan introduced that the “external” 5G chip is actually two chips, the integration is not high, similar to the module made into a set.

In fact, as early as 2016, Qualcomm launched the 5G baseband chip X50. At the beginning of this year, Qualcomm brought its upgraded version X55 to support NSA (non- Independent networking), SA (independent networking) dual mode. 2018 is the period when chip companies intensively launched 5G chips.Huawei, MediaTek and Samsung all demonstrated the first 5G baseband chips in this year. Earlier this year, Huawei brought its 5G baseband chip Baron 5000 one month before the release of Qualcomm X55. Huawei called it the world’s first commercial chipset to support 5G’s 3GPP standard.

From the commercial rhythm, Huawei and Qualcomm are ahead. The deeper observation is that in the 5G era, Huawei has been catching up with Qualcomm before, and now the 5G chip has been similar to Qualcomm’s similar products. At the level of mobile phone chip technology, Qualcomm’s one-big age is slowly ending. Looking at the top five mobile phone chips, the only international players who have developed 5G baseband chips are Qualcomm and Samsung. Unfortunately, Huawei’s mobile phone chips are still used by themselves.

“Daily Economic News” reporter found that the Qualcomm 5G chip phone released recently is the X50 baseband chip plus the 855 855 platform, such as ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro 5G version and the 5G version of VIVO iQOO Pro.The Mate 20X 5G version launched by Huawei uses the Kirin 980 external Baron 5000 baseband chip. “These 5G chips are all a starting product, and its benefits are fast.” Zhang Yan commented.

But the 5G chip will take a while from the first release to the real mass production and commercial use on the phone. “After the release of 5G chip companies, the mass production time does not depend entirely on the capabilities, but on the needs of mobile phone companies.” Zhang Yan said that from the release to the market, mobile phone chips will generally have a year, product design changes ahead of schedule, next year. The domestic mobile phone chip market is basically fixed.

5G chips still need to be changed many times in practice, and have now come to the stage of the second generation chip battle. Qualcomm told the “Daily Economic News” reporter that the X55 mobile phone terminal supporting SA will be listed at the end of this year. The mobile phone with integrated Snapdragon 5G mobile platform is expected to be available in the first half of 2020, which is no longer a single chip. Plug-in” way.

In this regard, the industry expects that Qualcomm’s 5G chip will be named Snapdragon 865, against the Huawei Qilin series 5G processor released on September 6.

The industry is looking forward to thousands of 5G mobile phones

From a global perspective, 5G commercial time in South Korea, the United States and other countries is earlier. According to data released by Samsung,Samsung 5G mobile phone shipments in South Korea have exceeded 2 million, mainly released at the beginning of this year’s Samsung S10 series, equipped with Samsung’s self-developed Exynos 5100 baseband chip.

However, the industry expects shipments of 5G handsets this year to be less than 1% of total handset shipments. Canalys analysis, by 2020, 17.5% of smartphones shipped in China will have 5G capabilities. 5G mobile phones will surpass 4G mobile phones for the first time in 2023, reaching nearly 800 million units of shipments, accounting for half of all smartphone shipments.

Chen Guanzhou, general manager of MediaTek, told the Daily Economic News that the global large-scale 5G chip delivery will appear in the first quarter of next year. Some countries turn to 5G faster, and some countries will slow down. The 4G chip has a long tail effect and will exist for a long time. The market for 4G chips should be up to 2025, and even later, MediaTek will continue to introduce 4G chips.

The popularity of 5G mobile phones requires a long-term phase, and for consumers, price is the most critical factor. At present, the price of 5G mobile phones that have been sold is generally high. After the subsidy, Huawei Mate20 X 5G version sold for 6199 yuan, Samsung Note 10+5G version sold for 7999 yuan, other brands 5G Mobile phones are mostly in the 5,000 yuan position, which is obviously difficult for ordinary consumers to accept.

In the view of Chen Guanzhou, the cost of 5G mobile phone chips is also a problem, which makes the 5G mobile phone natural high. Cost, MediaTek strives to explore 2,000 yuan for 5G mobile phones next year, and it will take more time to go down to 1,000 yuan.

A semiconductor industry analyst believes that the difficulty of 5G chip development is greatly increased, and high R&D expenses are bound to be allocated to the final product.

Lu Weibing, general manager of Xiaomi Group’s red rice brand, said in an interview with the reporter of “Daily Economic News” that in the process, 5G chips basically rely on 7 nanometers. The current yield of 7 nanometers is about 50% to 60%, and the yield of 4G mobile phone chips may be over 90%. The process itself is a very important cost dimension.

The reporter noticed that from the main products of the five major 5G chip companies, most of them use the latest 7 nanometer technology.

“Because of the scale, the scale economy of this chain of 5G is still not up.” Lu Weibing also said that 5G chips are composed of many devices, currently The integration at the beginning was not enough. However, Lu Weibing is more active in the future. He also said that 70% and 80% of Xiaomi’s resources are invested in 5G, and next year’s 5G mobile phones will definitely drop below 2,000 yuan.

Another Xiaomi executive told reporters that the red rice K30 series definitely supports 5G mobile phones. This used to be the flagship series of red rice price of 2,000 yuan. For the real popularity of 5G mobile phones, it still needs to reduce the price to thousands. Below the dollar.

Endurance puzzle to be resolved

Outside the cost, the power consumption of the 5G chip It has become a common headache for chip companies and mobile phone manufacturers, and even the biggest problem that restricts the development of 5G mobile phones. The 5G mobile phones currently sold in China are all equipped with large batteries, and the fuselage is relatively large, and “thick and heavy.” The fuselage makes the actual experience a lot worse than 4G phones.

The reporter has contacted a Huawei Mate20 X 5G version of the mobile phone user, the screenshot of the mobile phone shown, two hours of use, the power of its 5G mobile phone From 86% to 38%, it consumes more than 40% of the phone’s power. At present, the 5G signal is not very continuous. The 5G mobile phone in his hand can only be used for six or seven hours, which is far lower than the one-day use time of the 4G mobile phone.

The three major operators are currently stepping up the popularity of 5G networks, but the 5G network has not yet achieved full coverage. “The problem of large power consumption has not been exposed yet. Seriously, because the network is not very popular, there is always no 5G signal.” Zhang Yan said that in the laboratory environment, the use of 5G mobile phones under the same conditions is only one-third of that of 4G mobile phones. Chip companies hope to The duration of 5G mobile phones is maintained at more than 80% of 4G mobile phones.

In Zhang Yan’s view, from 2G to 5G,Mobile phones can be said to have experienced “bicycles, motorcycles, cars, big trucks”. In the 5G era, cars became big trucks, and it is impossible to consume fuel. “You can do some optimization in the ‘5G Big Truck’, but how to optimize it, the energy required is much higher than the ‘4G car’.”

“All the electricity on the mobile phone is saved, 5G chips need to be more accurate to judge the application needs.” Zhou Guang, senior vice president of Ziguang Zhan Rui, told reporters that the most important solution for 5G mobile phone power consumption is relying on chip platform enterprises.

” The main idea of saving electricity now is to optimize the number of dispatches for ‘5G big trucks’. For example, if you have nothing to run on the street, now you are If you have a task, you can run again. If you have nothing to do, then Zhang Yan said that Huawei and Qualcomm both use this method. When they need it, they can mobilize 5G. Now it can be realized technically.

The emergence of new things is also an era of 5G chip companies.Cost and battery life have become two major problems in the current commercialization of 5G chips. The technical battle is the battle of enterprises, which also determines the life and death of 5G chip companies.

The 5G era is the era of Internet of Everything. In addition to the competition for mobile phone chips, Qualcomm and MediaTek are also targeting the broader Internet of Things field. Chen Guanzhou told the reporter of “Daily Economic News” that some IoT terminals require a large amount of computing, and at the same time need networking functions, and even need some AI computing power, MediaTek will use AIOT (artificial intelligence) Networking) cut in.

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