OPPO ceases operations of chip design unit responsible for MariSilicon X

OPPO Find N2 Flip
(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • OPPO has dismantled its in-house development team Zeku responsible for the MariSilicon X chip.
  • The team created the brand's own 6nm NPU chip, paired with an image signal processor for stronger phone performance and reduce power consumption.
  • OPPO attributes the team's dismembering to economic shifts in the global smartphone market and political tensions between China and the U.S.

Tough times are falling on Chinese phone brand OPPO once again as economic downturns and political tensions cause it to lose a critical development team.

According to TechCrunch, OPPO is dismantling the team behind its own chip development team Zeku. The Chinese OEM cites a weak global demand overall and rising political tension between China and the U.S. as the latter threatens to cut the former from critical suppliers. The weaker global demand can be attributed to the latest Q1 2023 report, which saw the smartphone market across the world drop by 12%.

Team Zeku was responsible for the MariSilicon X chip OPPO debuted back in December 2021. The company developed its own 6nm NPU (neural processing unit), which was combined with an image signal processor (ISP). Together, it would utilize the full potential of a phone's CPU, boosting performance and reducing a device's power consumption.

The chip has been found in many of OPPO's recent flagship phones, including the latest OPPO Find N2 Flip.

In a statement from OPPO to its now-moot team, the company said, "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."

OPPO Find N2 Flip

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The news only gets sadder as OPPO revealed a new MariSilicon Y chip in late 2022, which had a new standard for wireless audio in its sights. What's more, OPPO's sudden severing of the Zeku team came as the in-house development project was apparently hiring 100 new personnel to fill required positions.

OPPO has over 2,000 employees on the Zeku team and "the company will properly arrange related matters and continue to deliver great products and service to users worldwide," as cited by TechCrunch.

Huawei, another Chinese OEM, suffered strenuous times similar to OPPO three years back. The company attempted to use chips developed by HiSilicon, although several new restrictions were brought down by the U.S. government, cutting those ties and forcing the company to delay the launch of its Mate 40 series.

On a similar note, OPPO is still struggling with its 5G technology patent dispute with Nokia. Now, problems are arising in France as the company may have to retreat from the country entirely as it has already ceased all operations and sales of newer products. The next few months will be trying indeed as OPPO attempts to make some "difficult adjustments."

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.