Hisilicon Semiconductor, Huawei's in-house polysilicon business unit, launched its first LTE integrated application processor, the Kirin 910 and 920, in 2014. Haisi has designed a thin and light wireless network card (Balong series) and a separate application processor (K3V2 series). This integrated product can help it gain a clear competitive advantage. With the Kirin 920 processor, HiSilides became the world's first Vendors supporting LTE Cat 6 application processors, however Qualcomm and Intel Cat 6 LTE chips are just thin and light wireless cards.
Kirin 920, using 28nm process, integrated multi-mode Cat 6 LTE wireless network card, embedded quad-core Cortex-A15/ quad-core Cortex-A7 size eight-core CPU, ARM Mail T628 graphics processor and Tensilica HiFi3 DSP. Kirin 910, with 28nm process, integrated multimode Cat 4 LTE wireless network card, embedded quad-core A9 CPU, ARM Mail 450 graphics processor and Tensilica HiFi2 DSP. Huawei's various smartphones and tablets are equipped with Kirin 910 chips, and the latest Glory 6 Android smartphones are equipped with Kirin 920 chips.
With these products, HiSilicon joins the commercial LTE application and processor vendors camp, including: Broadcom, Dimensions, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Samsung. However, Broadcom has announced its intention to sell or close its baseband business. In 2014, MediaTek will launch its commercial LTE application processor. In the first half of 2015, Intel will release its SoFIA LTE chip. Spreadtrum may also launch LTE application processors by the end of this year or early tomorrow.
Just like Apple and Samsung, Huawei is now focusing on vertical integration and its relationship with the carrier's network infrastructure, which may help Huawei bring multi-mode LTE 6 chips to many of its baseband competitors. Strategy AnalyTIcs expects Sears' share of the baseband and smartphone application processor market to be less than 1% in 2013. However, the increase in shipments of Huawei smartphones using Hisilicon chips is a good sign.
Although the HiSilicon LTE chip is unlikely to pose a threat to Qualcomm's market share quickly, these chips are likely to have an impact on the supply ambitions of Photo Technology, MediaTek and Spreadtrum LTE chips to some extent. According to Strategy AnalyTIcs, Qualcomm is well positioned to compete with other vendors with its LTE baseband chips, associated RF and connectivity technologies. Strategy AnalyTIcs believes that in overseas markets, Huawei will continue to use Qualcomm's chips in its flagship handsets. Huawei's application processor chip also confirmed the decision of Broadcom to launch the baseband market. Whether like Apple, Huawei and Samsung will design their own LTE chips remains to be seen.
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