The growing demand for smart devices combined with powerful hardware is growing rapidly. It seems like yesterday story when we use to talk about the phone with a single and then dual core CPU, while now we can see 10 core processor. And a phone backed by 6 GB RAM. Quite awesome to experience such devices and interesting to know about the technology that empowering.
We spoke to Neeraj Sharma, Spreadtrum, to know about the development in the industry and where are we headed.
What are the technological developments of Chipset Industry?
Mobile chipsets have come a long way from the single-core processors that dotted the landscape at the advent of the smartphone revolution, thanks to the key technological breakthroughs that have redefined the chipset industry over the past couple of years. Chipsets are getting smaller and more powerful, and come pre-integrated with capabilities to support latest features. For example, most chipsets will now be equipped with ARM TrustZone technology. A hardware-based Security-on-Chip (SoC) solution which provides a switch-based buffer between secure and non-secure resources, the revolutionary development will allow chipset manufacturers to bolster device security at a hardware level. OEMs are also integrating turnkey solutions for security features like iris scanner and finger scanner in their chipsets for swifter roll outs.
Cutting-edge fabrication processes like 14 nm are fast becoming the norm for leading mobile brands across the world. These high-performance chipsets have made it possible for global consumers to own sleeker, faster, and more powerful smartphones at comparatively lower costs. With chipset manufacturers looking to improve upon their existing capabilities with more commercially viable 10nm processes, it is quite likely that owning a high-performance, feature driven smartphone will become significantly more affordable in the near future. This will add great impetus to the adoption of digital technology, further establishing smartphones as the preferred device for global consumers.
Another development worth tracking in this regard is the development of energy and cost-efficient chipset solutions aimed at addressing IoT fragmentation. Leveraging flexible product development, these chipsets are designed to allow devices from different OEMs to communicate with one another as well as with cloud-based application across multiple wireless standards and protocols. This exciting evolution will pave the way for tomorrow’s interconnected, IoT-led future.
What are your business plans for the year 2017?
Spreadtrum shipped 625 million chipsets in 2016, accounting for nearly 25% of the global phone shipments last year, and has already established itself as the largest chipset supplier in the Indian market. Our target for 2017 will be to build on this impressive performance by enhancing our market footprint with more robust growth. Technological innovation will be pivotal in achieving this goal.
Most LTE products in India at present are based on CAT4 capability, but with advanced LTE capabilities up to CAT16 currently available, the country still has some catching up to do with
the global landscape in terms of technology. This is where Spreadtrum steps into the picture. We are working towards enabling chipset solutions with CAT7 capabilities for entry-level devices. This will allow handset manufacturers in the country to leapfrog onto a higher LTE capability at a very reasonable cost. We have also recently launched a 14nm chipset in collaboration with Intel, and are broadening our product portfolio by integrating innovative features like eMBMS, VoWiFi, and dual camera into our chipsets.
Spreadtrum mission is to make the latest technology available to the masses. This is why we are working towards developing affordable octa-core processors. This will help us to bring high power computing, currently restricted to high-end devices to mainstream products. We have additionally been exploring strategic tie-ups with operators in India and other international markets.
How do you want to take up ‘Design in India’ initiative?
We at Spreadtrum are committed to the ‘Design in India’ vision and have been actively contributing to it since 2015. Not only have we set up a one-of-its-kind hardware lab with an OTA chamber in India, but are also offering turnkey solutions to Indian mobile brands. Our commitment to quality is absolute; at our hardware lab, we help the mobile brands to design, develop, test and debug with a reduced time to market.
As the smartphone market is growing rapidly, what are your plans towards it?
Smartphones have been a key focus area for Spreadtrum since 2013. With India as the fastest growing smartphone market in the world, we are in pole position to capitalize on the lucrative business opportunity this represents. Innovation has been the watchword for us at Spreadtrum, and we are already working on bringing out high-performance, low-cost chipsets equipped with state-of-the-art features like eMBMS, VoWiFi, Carrier Aggregation and Dual Camera for the Indian market. We have advanced chipsets catering to both high to mid-end segments and our aim is to make smartphones more accessible and affordable for the masses, giving them an opportunity to be an active participant in the ongoing digital revolution.
How Intel partnership going to add value to your products?
In the smartphone segment, we have a tie-up with Intel which is also one of our investors. The investment was not only from a financial point-of-view but also from a technological perspective, it is aimed at adopting Intel’s technological supremacy to develop cutting-edge chipset solutions for the smartphone segment. At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress, we launched SC9861G-IA, a 14nm 8-core 64-bit mid- and high-end LTE SoC platforms built on Intel’s 14nm foundry platform. We are also working with Intel for developing more chipsets leveraging their mature foundry.
How is Indian market crucial for Spreadtrum?
Despite being the second-largest smartphone market behind China, the overall smartphone penetration in India currently stands only at around 30%. This presents an extremely unique and lucrative business proposition; most of the developed markets, including China, have already reaching smartphone saturation. Given its current market worth as well as the future growth potential, India is an extremely crucial market for Spreadtrum. This is why we have invested heavily into developing and consolidating our capabilities in the country. We also see a huge potential for India as a research and design center and have been collaborating with several leading mobile brands such as Samsung, Reliance, Lava, Micromax, Intex, Zen, and Itel to offer innovative and affordable handsets tailored to the unique requirements of the Indian consumer.