Spreadtrum set to move partnership with Samsung to high-end Tizen phones

May 11, 2017

Since Samsung commenced the Samsung Z-series featuring its own Tizen operating system, the device has always been powered by a Spreadtrum processor, right from the Samsung Z1, then the Z3 and of late, the Z2 released last year. This mutually beneficial union is likely to continue growing as both companies are gradually expanding from low-end to mid/high-end smartphones and chips respectively.

The company has disclosed that it hopes to continue growing and expanding its partnership with Samsung, moving from low-end to high-end segments together with Tizen's mobile devices. While Samsung is rumoured to be working on the Samsung Z4, Spreadstrum announced a new, more powerful chipset at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 held in Barcelona. The new mid-range/high-end chip is a 64-bit chip with an octa-core SoC and built on Intel's 14nm foundry platform.

Spreadtrum is a Chinese chip manufacturer established in 2001 that initially focused on making processor chips for feature phones. The company attained leadership in this segment in 2013 before spreading to chips for 3G smartphones in 2014. Spreadtrum is a fabless manufacturer in the sense that it sells semiconductor chips but do not have its own foundry plant. The process of making or casting the chip is done by outsourcing to a third-party manufacturer based on order and the design it creates. If you think Spreadtrum is alone in this model of business, it might surprise you to know that Qualcomm, MediaTek, Nvidia and several others are all fabless manufacturers.

In the case of Spreadtrum, its chips are manufactured at Intel's well-known factory that has existed since the PC era. Intel is one of the biggest investors in Spreadtrum, laying claim to 20% shares in the company, so this could be understood. Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon chip is manufactured at Samsung's foundry while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) manufactures chips for MediaTek. TSMC also does manufacture Qualcomm chips but not the Snapdragon 835.

While commenting on the partnership, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had this to say;

This partnership will enhance our ability to support wider mobile subscribers in China and around the world more quickly delivering a broad portfolio of Intel architecture and communications technology solutions,"

Samsung is Spreadtrum's biggest customer currently with most of its nearly $2 billion annual income credited to Samsung's patronage mostly on its Tizen devices even though some of the Android-based Galaxy smartphones run on Tizen OS. The cooperation between Spreadtrum and Samsung is to optimize the use of Tizen device performance by reducing power consumption and memory used through deep integration between Spreadtrum hardware chip with Tizen-based software.

According to Neeraj Sharma of Spreadtrum Communications;

"The Tizen series is really based on the Spreadtrum chipset because the Tizen Samsung gives a lot of special attention because they will not run on Android, so we are fully committed and working with Samsung for the same,"


To wrap it all up, Dr Leo Li, chairman and CEO of Spreadtrum had this to say;

"We are very proud to partner with Samsung to add the Tizen operating system to our supported OS portfolio, and work together in promoting smartphone adoption worldwide.The close collaboration of both teams and the deep integration of our products helps to reduce device power consumption and Consumption of memory systems, which will greatly enhance the user experience for entry-level smartphones, "


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