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Xiaomi Launches Its Own Chip, With an Assist From Beijing

wsj-chip.jpg

Government funding helped smartphone maker develop its Pinecone Surge S1 chip

BEIJING— Eva Dou reports: Chinese government funding helped Xiaomi Corp. produce its first smartphone processor, the company’s chairman said as he unveiled the chip at a packed launch event in the China National Convention Center here Tuesday.

The support is the latest sign of China’s push to develop its semiconductor industry, which has included attempts to buy overseas chip companies for their technology. Xiaomi is the second Chinese smartphone maker, after Huawei Technologies Co., able to develop its own processors.

Xiaomi Chairman Lei Jun disclosed the government funding as he described development of the new Pinecone Surge S1 chip, which will power the company’s new budget smartphone, the Mi 5C. The phone goes on sale in China Friday, with a starting price of 1,499 yuan ($218).

The Beijing-based smartphone company typically thanks private-sector partners during its product launches. But on Tuesday, it flashed a slide that read: “Thanks for the government’s support.”

Xiaomi received monetary support from a semiconductor development fund set up by Beijing’s Zhongguancun high-tech district, Mr. Lei said. He also said China’s technology ministry and Beijing’s municipal government aided Xiaomi’s chip-making efforts, but he didn’t elaborate.

‘Making chips takes lots and lots of money…. Actually, our understanding is that those supporting us didn’t give a lot of money. But what was important was the warmth they sent us.’

 

“Making chips takes lots and lots of money,” Mr. Lei said. “Actually, our understanding is that those supporting us didn’t give a lot of money. But what was important was the warmth they sent us.”

Mr. Lei said the chip cost at least one billion yuan to develop…. (read more)

Source: WSJ

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