OPPO Shuts Down Its Zeku Chip Design Division!

OPPO just gave up on its custom chip aspirations, and has abruptly down its Zeku chip design division!


OPPO Shuts Down Its Zeku Chip Design Division!

OPPO has finally given up on its custom chip aspirations! The Chinese smartphone brand is shutting down its Zeku chip design division, which it established only a few years ago.

OPPO announced the decision abruptly in a short statement, and said that “the company will properly arrange related matters and continue to deliver great products and service to users worldwide“.

Due to the uncertainties in the global economy and the smartphone industry, we have to make difficult adjustments for long-term development. Therefore, the company has decided to cease the operation of Zeku.

This decision comes after rumours swirled that OPPO is preparing to withdraw from France, and even the whole of Europe by 30 June 2023. OPPO had earlier pulled its phones from Germany due to a legal spat with Nokia in 2022, and now OPPO France employees and partners claim that they were told to stop selling OPPO phones.

While OPPO finished Q1 2023 on a strong note – as the world’s 4th largest smartphone brand, its total shipments dropped 8%. That is better than the industry average – the global smartphone market shrank by 13% that quarter. It appears that OPPO believes global demand for smartphones will continue to be weak for quite some time to come…

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What Zeku Did For OPPO : A Short History

Zeku started in 2019 by designing co-processors for imaging and other components in OPPO smartphones, but have not been able to develop a full SoC. Its biggest success was, arguably, the MariSilicon X neural processing unit (NPU) which it introduced in December 2021.

Finalised after three years of research and development, the OPPO MariSiliconX was fabricated on the 6 nm process technology. It was designed as a dedicated imaging NPU, to accelerate AI noise reduction algorithms, and deliver greater dynamic range and better colour reproduction.

That NPU has been used in many OPPO flagship smartphones, including the latest OPPO Find N2 Flip. After that, Zeku introduced MariSilicon Y in late 2022 – a wireless audio SoC.

Despite Zeku not being able to deliver a full mobile SoC, OPPO was expected to invest more in chip design, both as a way to differentiate from other brands, as well as a way to avoid getting cut off chip supplies due to rising US-China tensions.

So the decision came as a surprise, especially when Zeku was still looking to hire more than 100 positions a month ago on LinkedIn!


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