5G mobile phone chips (hereinafter referred to as "5G chips"), as the core components of 5G towards large-scale commercial use, stand on the cusp of the unpredictable international situation in 2020, stirring the mobile phone arena.

Political factors have brought disaster, and the industry is still prosperous. In the first 11 months of 2020, the shipment of 5G mobile phones in the Chinese market reached 144 million units, which will surely exceed 150 million units in the whole year, reaching the highest expectations of all market institutions and major manufacturers by the end of 2019. The high performance and cost reduction of 5G chips have promoted the launch of 5G thousand-yuan phones and the large-scale popularization of users.

Although it is not as direct-to-consumer as 5G mobile phones, 5G chips "carry their own traffic" and have always maintained their popularity, attracting people's attention. So, in this market with extremely high technical thresholds, talent thresholds and capital thresholds, what kind of competition and development pattern will it present in 2020?

Old Player · Memorabilia

Three high thresholds stopped those eager to try. The 5G chip market in 2020 is still the remnants of the 4G era, including independent chip manufacturers Qualcomm, MediaTek, Zhanrui, and the three most powerful mobile phone manufacturers – Apple, Huawei, and Samsung's chip organizations. Players play a new copy.

Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 865 released in December 2019, achieved great success in the high-end 5G mobile phone market in 2020, and was once the only choice in the open market. It was adopted by more than 70 5G mobile phones two months after its launch. The Dimensity 1000 series has a lot to offer. One year later, the Snapdragon 888, which was launched in December 2020, "hopes that the whole world will feel the joy of China and make it all the way." Manufacturers support.

MediaTek will open low and go high in 2020. Although the market performance of the first 5G chip Dimensity 1000 is not satisfactory, MediaTek quickly opened up the market with a full range of Dimensity products covering the high, middle and low end, such as the Dimensity 800 released in the second quarter. series, the market performance is dazzling. MediaTek expects that the shipment of Dimensity series 5G chips will reach 45 million units in 2020.

Zhanrui, whose overall strength is relatively weak, has made great progress in the 5G era. In the early stage of commercial use, it released the 5G baseband Ivy V510 and the 5G SoC chip Tiger Ben T7510, standing on the same track as Qualcomm and MediaTek. In addition, Zhanrui will receive capital injection from industries such as the second phase of the "Big Fund" in 2020, and will land on the Science and Technology Innovation Board to reserve abundant ammunition for the long-term competition of 5G.

Among the three major mobile phone manufacturers, Apple has developed its own 5G baseband, and Samsung has tried to sell 5G chips to the outside world. The protagonist of the tragedy is Huawei's HiSilicon. The Kirin 990 launched in 2020 has excellent overall performance and ranks first in China Mobile's 2020 Smart Hardware Quality Report. However, the strong will be avoided, and facing the sanctions of the US state, when the Kirin series of 5G chips will come from winter to spring, we will wait and see.

No one enters, no one leaves behind

5G has created a new trillion-dollar market, like a glittering gold mine, attracting the attention of all walks of life. There are many entrants in all aspects of the entire industrial ecological chain, but on the mobile phone chip side, so far, no fresh faces have appeared. It is still the three manufacturers of Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Ziguang Zhanrui who staged "Friends".

No one enters the market because the threshold is too high. How does 5G raise the threshold for mobile phone chips? On the one hand, the technology is more complex. 5G is not a castle in the air, but is built on the basis of 2/3/4G technologies and the accumulation of these networks. This requires new players not only to invest heavily in research and development of 5G chip technology, but also to Invest a lot of manpower, financial resources and time to understand hundreds of communication networks around the world. On the other hand, mobile phone chips pursue the most advanced process technology. It is reported that the one-time cost of 7nm tape-out is 200 million yuan, and that of 5nm is as high as 300 million yuan. This kind of money-burning game is overwhelmed even by chip giants such as Broadcom and Intel.

The three manufacturers with deep heritage are in the familiar rules of the game, and no one is left behind. According to the mobile phone chip market report for the third quarter of 2020 released by research institute Counterpoint, MediaTek ranked first with a 31% share, the first time it reached the top. Qualcomm's share fell to the second place, but the pure 5G chip market still leads with a 39% share, which can be described as mulberry. Zhanrui's share also increased from 3% to 4%.

Qualcomm's strong investment in 5G technology has become a key factor in the final lead. It is reported that Qualcomm's cumulative R&D investment has reached 66 billion US dollars. This prompted Qualcomm and Huawei to reach a patent settlement this year, winning more possibilities for cooperation. In addition, Qualcomm attaches great importance to the Chinese market, and 5G chips take the initiative to reduce prices to compete for the market. Compared with the high cold in the early 4G period, it can be described as "putting down the body" and has received support from more brands.

MediaTek's success in the early stages of 5G is almost the same as that of Qualcomm. It is also due to its high emphasis on the Chinese market and high-intensity R&D. In 2020 alone, R&D expenses will reach a record $2.5 billion, which is expected to account for 25% of revenue. . In 2020, Zhanrui has taken a different approach and chose TSMC's 6nm process to avoid competing with major manufacturers and at the same time to obtain the guarantee of high-end process; The slogan "5G for the people" has raised awareness.

150% incremental market

For 5G chips in 2020, China Mobile Terminal Laboratory has summarized. "After the large-scale development of 5G, industrial efforts and SA fortifications, the overall maturity of 5G chips has improved significantly compared with 2019, which has met the current commercial needs of 5G, and can provide users with a continuous high-speed data transmission experience in a complex networking environment. voice calls and good power consumption.”

If we talk about it in detail, in 2020, all chip manufacturers will be exposed to rain and dew, and they can achieve good growth. There are multiple factors. The most important thing is that on the basis of insignificant in 2019, the 200 million 5G mobile phone market has exploded violently, and the demand is extremely strong. In addition, HiSilicon was restricted and its talents were difficult to display, which made Huawei expand its external procurement and also increased the performance of several chip manufacturers.

Based on industry forecasts, the 5G mobile phone market in 2021 will be around 500 million units, an increase of 150% compared to 2020. Behind the bigger cake, there will be extremely fierce competition. With the addition of frequency bands such as 700M and millimeter wave, the design of 5G chips is more complicated; the emergence of possible 5G "killer applications" such as cloud games requires 5G mobile phones to have more affordable prices, higher performance, and lower power consumption. Next year's 5G chip market will definitely be exciting.

Responsible editor: gt

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