Kirin: A Processor the Western World Should Look Out For
Yesterday, we discussed the second part of our tech giants coming to the west series with Huawei. What people may not know, however, is that Huawei owns a company by the name of HiSilicon. Hisilicon’s processor department may not be the most popular in the west but their technology is impressive, with year on year improvements being easily seen. In the coming years, manufacturers such as Qualcomm may have to face the fact that there are other companies just as able as them.
Just who is HiSilicon?
After years of rapid growth, HiSilicon is now the number one IC design company in China, and in 2013 generated $1.4 billion USD. The company was formed in Shenzhen in 2004 and has since set up offices in: Beijing, Shanghai, Silicon Valley (USA) and Sweden. They predominantly produce the Kirin series of processors for Huawei which is known for appearing in the Honor and Huawei Ascend series of phones. It is possible we may even see a Kirin Processor in the upcoming Nexus which is rumored to be manufactured by the Chinese company. While nothing has been officially confirmed, a Kirin chip in the upcoming nexus would make an interesting advancement for the brand. This would be a large blow for competitor Qualcomm who has made the possessors for the previous models. Much like we saw with the Xiaomi in our article, Huawei’s approach with HiSilicon appears to be growing the brand internally and locally until it is big enough and ready to branch out in to the larger world. Despite recent rumors, both Huawei and HiSilicon companies have confirmed that there are no current plans to separate.
So the Kirin is just another SoC?
The most recent addition to the Kirin family is the 930 which features a 64-bit, big.LITTLE array of 8 cores clocked at 2.0 GHz and can handle cameras up to an impressive 32mp. The 930 also has a much smaller process size of just 16nm compared to the Snapdragon 805’s 28nm. This chip has been confirmed to be in the Huawei MediaPad X2 which was announced during MWC this week but a release date has not yet been given. So whilst yes, the 930 is just another high-end processor, what it represents is something far more important: a shift in market shares and where companies source their products from.
What comes next for them?
With HiSilicon’s processors proving that they can stand their ground in their parent company’s products, the time may have come for them to start to expand to other companies’ products. A recent report by Strategy Analytics has shown that just three companies account for 86% of the cellular processor market share. They are Qualcomm with 66%, MediaTek with 15% and Spectrum Communications with 5%. HiSilicon announced last year that they are to start selling to other companies which means we could start to see their chips appearing in far more devices over the coming year. This can be seen with the similar progression of the Exynos SoC which now appears in the Meizu MX series. With several large companies in china starting to make an appearance in the western world, it may not be too long before we see a market share that looks completely different to what we have now.
With HiSilicon’s products becoming more popular, the majority of manufacturers will be on the look out. It is commonly known that competition is good for both the consumer and business as it stops stagnation. It is clear that whatever happens, it is no longer just Qualcomm’s game, they could be in for a rough few years ahead.
Do you own a Huawei phone? How do you find the performance?