Xiaomi now wants to produce and use its own chips. Apple, Huawei and Samsung’s use of their own processors and chips gives them an advantage in the industry. Xiaomi shouldn’t be left behind, of course.
You know the Surge series. If you remember, the Mi MIX Fold (cetus) device introduced in March 2021 had a “Surge C1” ISP (image-signal proccessor), while the Xiaomi 12 Pro (zeus) device introduced in December 2021 had a “Surge P1” PMIC.
But the adventure of Surge actually started earlier. Let’s go to 2017.
Surge S1 – Xiaomi’s First In-House SoC
Yes, actually the Surge series started in 2017. Surge S1, Xiaomi’s first in-house produced chipset. Produced by partnership of TSMC and Xiaomi (Pinecone, on behalf of Xiaomi), ARM64 octa-core processor was introduced on February 2017 with Mi 5C (meri) device.
Processor comes with Cortex-A53 cores running at 4 x 2.2GHz performance cores and 4 x 1.4GHz more battery-conscious cores. CPU using ARM big.LITTLE configuration. It uses Mali-T860 GPU. The processor, which has gone through TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ fabrication process. This SoC includes first Surge ISP. It’s said to enhanced image processing and increase camera light performance by 150%. SoC supports VoLTE, 4K@30FPS video recording and QHD (2560×1440) screen resolution.
Now, let’s take a look at the official CPU tests. Surge S1 AnTuTU benchmarks are as follows by Xiaomi. Processor offered even better performance than the Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953).
And these are multi-core Geekbench 4.0 tests. Here too, it has beaten Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953) and is close to MediaTek P20 (MT6757).
GFXBench tests are also available here. Surge S1 GPU (Mali-T860 MP4) has defeated the other 3 GPU (Adreno 506, Mali-T880 MP2 and Mali-T860 MP2 respectively).
However, Surge S1 project didn’t last long and was abandoned by Xiaomi. Because, according to Xiaomi in 2017, it was very expensive and troublesome to develop a CPU. The company found it more logical and cheaper to develop Bluetooth and RF chips and other peripheral components instead of producing its own CPU.
Surge C1 – Surge Project Restarted Again With In-House ISP!
Gaining strength after a 4-year hiatus, Xiaomi restarts the Surge project it left unfinished and offers the first in-house ISP (image-signalling processor). Surge C1 to users in February 2021 in Mi MIX Fold (cetus).
According to Xiaomi, the Surge C1 ISP is detached from the SoC and soldered to the motherboard separately. As a result, it’s an independent Xiaomi ISP with its own algorithm. Xiaomi claims this ISP cost it 140 million Yuan. The ISP chip offers very good performance using very low memory. Chip development process took 2 years and it uses the 3A algorithm. Algorithm is as follows:
- Auto Focus (AF)
- Accurate White Balance (AWB)
- Automatic Exposure (AE)
AF (Auto Focus) is important for quickly focusing on objects and focusing when the object in focus is smaller or in low light. This is important when you suddenly need to shoot something with your camera, you can shoot quickly.
AWB (Auto White Balance) on the other hand, stabilizes the white balance in a frame when there is complex lighting around you. It gives color adjustment to the photo you take, so you can take more realistic photos.
Finally, AE (Auto Explosure) is important to achieve appropriate exposure levels while increasing dynamic range. Roughly speaking, exposure is the factor that determines how light and dark the photo we get will be. Thanks to AE, the dynamic range adjustment of the photos you take day or night is automatically adjusted. When we put all these together, we will get amazing photos.
It seems like Lei Jun’s dreams are slowly coming true. Next project is the Surge P1. Let’s take a look at it!
Surge P1 – Colossal Power
Xiaomi’s award-winning and world-first project Surge P1 is a PMIC (power management integrated circuit). It was first introduced in December 2021 with the Xiaomi 12 Pro (zeus).
Surge P1 fully designed for fast charging. With single-cell 120W fast charging technology, it completely fills the 4600mAh Xiaomi 12 Pro (zeus) in 18 minutes! With 200W wired charging, the new chip can charge a 4000mAh battery in 8 minutes. It can also charge a single 120W battery in less than a second. These values was achieved for the first time in the world with single-cell.
In a single-cell fast charging system, a series-parallel circuit of 5 different charge pumps is required to convert the 20V voltage input to a 5V voltage that can be charged to the battery. Also, a large number of charge pumps and series-connected architecture in general will generate a lot of heat.
Xiaomi developed two smart charging chips and placed them in the Surge P1. These two inherit the complex structure of the traditional 5-charge pump. The high-voltage power input to the phone is converted into a large current that can be charged directly to the battery more efficiently.
Chip is also “TÜV Rheinland Safe Quick Charge System 3.0″ certified, which means it can provide up to 42 levels of safety protection. Which means this project is reliable.
Alright, What did Xiaomi Achieve as a Result?
When we look at the results, there is a great success story. The Surge project, which started in 2017, was canceled due to technical problems and lack of corporation budget. But project was never abandoned. By 2021, the Xiaomi company has strengthened it’s economic power and restarted the Surge project. Now all we’re missing is a new Surge S series. This must be Xiaomi’s next target. Maybe we’ll see it in the future.
We’re expecting new Surge C2 on Xiaomi MIX 5. You can learn all details here.
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