Oppo shutters the unit that designed its custom MariSilicon chips

Oppo shutters the unit that designed its custom MariSilicon chips
Oppo started designing its own custom chips in 2019 and they were first used in 2021. The MariSilicon X imaging NPU, first used in the Find X5 series, was built using a 6nm process node and offered higher performance with less energy consumption. The chip combined an image signal processor (ISP) with AI capabilities helping the phones using the silicon deliver images with less noise and take viable photographs even in low-light environments.

Oppo then designed the MariSilicon Y Bluetooth audio chip. But it seems that Oppo is closing the Zeku chip designing unit that created the company's custom chips. The phone manufacturer earlier today left a statement with Android Authority that says, "Due to the uncertainties in the global economy and the smartphone industry, Oppo has to make difficult adjustments for long-term development. Therefore, the company has decided to cease the operation of Zeku."

According to the South China Morning Post, those working for the unit were shocked that the unit was closed. These employees were given less than a day's notice. Reportedly, Zeku workers were told on Thursday not to show up for work on Friday. One employee said, "I can’t even go back to the office to get the laptop." What is interesting is how fast things took a turn for the worse at Zeku.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Oppo unit posted about several job openings through its recruitment channel on WeChat. The chip unit was actively looking for a chip architecture engineer, chip verification, and software coders in four Chinese cities. There were rumors that Oppo was in the process of designing its own application processor (AP) for its smartphones that would be built by TSMC using its 6nm process node.

The Zeku unit was estimated to have a headcount of 3,000 employees and was not the only in-house chip design unit belonging to a Chinese phone manufacturer. Huawei founded its HiSilicon unit in 1991 and Xiaomi also has a similar unit.

If you have an Oppo phone with a MariSilicon chip, the news that Oppo has closed the Zeku chip design unit will not impact the performance of your device. And any upcoming phones that were going to use the MariSilicon chips designed in-house will probably still employ them. But today's news means that very soon Oppo will have to go back to sourcing all of its chip designs from third-party companies.
Oppo is one of the phone manufacturers owned by China's BBK Electronics which includes OnePlus, Vivo, Realme, and iQOO.

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