Xiaomi has announced its very own home-made chipset known as the Surge S1. Originally known under the codename Pinecone, the Surge S1 is not exactly a high powered SoC. Rather, it appears that Xiaomi is taking things slowly and only releasing a midrange chip instead.
The 28nm octa-core Surge S1 features a familiar high-low CPU configuration. That said, all four of the cores are based on the ARM Cortex-A53 processor. The only difference is that four of them are clocked at 2.2GHz, while the low power cores are clocked at 1.4GHz. It’s an admittedly unusual arrangement, but one that seems to work out for Xiaomi.
According to the Chinese company, the Surge S1 is comparable to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 and the MediaTek P20. Both are reasonably capable chips, and Xiaomi is being conservative about it’s own performance compared to the two established manufacturers.
That said, the Pinecone SoC is fitted with a Mali-T860 quad-core GPU, which Xiaomi is a lot less conservative about. The Mali-T860 is one of the newer GPUs from ARM, and even supports the Nvidia Vulkan API. The company claims that the resulting graphics performance of the Surge S1 will easily crush the the competition in the mid-range bracket.
Xiaomi has also built several layers of security into the modem of the Surge S1. The goal is to prevent unauthorised network access and protect data integrity. We’re not sure who these safeguards are directed at, but the security seems to be designed to work against fake base stations. Something that isn’t very common and has only been seen in the hands of US law enforcement agencies.
The release of the Surge S1 allows Xiaomi to join the ranks of Huawei, Samsung, and Apple as the only phone manufacturers to build their own SoC. There are benefits to taking this path, as designing the chipset allows the company to better optimise performance.
Xiaomi will be rolling out the Surge S1 in the newly announced Mi 5c, although it’s unclear when the smartphone will be made available.