OPPO is reportedly hiring MediaTek and Unisoc engineers to design its own chip
The U.S. Commerce Department recently extended the trade ban against Huawei until May 2021 and moved to block many chip makers from supplying HiSilicon Kirin SoCs to the company. While the trade ban currently only affects Huawei, the uncertainty of the situation has raised concerns among other Chinese manufacturers. Due to this, Huawei’s biggest domestic rival — OPPO — started investing in its own chipmaking capabilities last year, shortly after the trade ban was first announced. With the recent extension and escalation of the trade ban, OPPO is now stepping up efforts to design its own mobile chips and has managed to snag top engineering talent from its own suppliers MediaTek and Unisoc.
As per a report from Nikkei Asian Review on the matter, OPPO has recently poached several top executives from its chip supplier MediaTek, along with many engineers from China’s second-largest mobile chip developer Unisoc, to create an experienced mobile chip development team in Shanghai. The recent hires include Jeffery Ju, MediaTek’s former co-chief operating officer, and a former executive with Xiaomi, who had already been working with OPPO as a consultant. Along with Ju, another rising executive who’s involved in MediaTek’s 5G chip development will join OPPO in a month or two.
Sources familiar with the matter have further revealed that OPPO has also reached out to engineering talent from U.S. based chipmaker Qualcomm and Huawei’s own chip unit HiSilicon. A source with direct knowledge of the developments was quoted saying,” OPPO has been aggressively recruiting chip talent since last year as they realized that owning the chip design capability will give it more control over its supply chain…Developing chips, however, could mean burning a lot of money, and even if they have hired a group of experienced professionals, such efforts take years to mature.”
In a statement regarding the recent revelations, OPPO told Nikkei that it “already has the chip-related capability” and that “any R&D investment is to strengthen its product competitiveness and user experience.” However, the company did not respond directly to questions about its recent hires. While MediaTek declined to comment on the matter, Jeffery Ju could not be reached for comment.
OPPO’s recent efforts are part of a larger “de-Americanazation” campaign that was kicked off by Chinese companies due to the rising tensions between the two countries. It’s also worth noting that OPPO currently lacks a competitive chip design team and relies heavily on U.S. supplier Qualcomm for its mobile chips and 5G modems. Similarly, while Xiaomi also has a chip unit, which was formed back in 2014, it hasn’t introduced a second-generation design of its mobile chip since the first one was released in 2017 and relies on Qualcomm and MediaTek for its smartphone chips.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review