Low-cost SoCs from upstart Chinese factories are being found in more tablets and smartphones. Can it compete against established players?

AllWInner A31 01 Allwinner SoC appears in Asus tablet

Courtesy of our sister site, VR-Zone Chinese, it looks like Asus’ next mid-range tablet will be using an SoC made by Allwinner (China Zhi Technology).

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Not much is known about this tablet but by the specs that are publicly available, it looks decidedly mid-range.

What’s interesting about this tablet is that it won’t be powered by a mid-range SoC from the likes of an established player like Qualcomm. Instead Asus picked a relatively unknown chipmaker, which, very likely, can provide them the required chips at a fraction of the price. The kicker is, Allwinner has the same license for ARM technology — notably the Cortex A8 — that established chipmakers like Qualcomm have.

螢幕快照 2013 08 15 下午2.00.03 665x641 Allwinner SoC appears in Asus tablet

The tablet Asus is planning on releasing is unlikely to be very interesting. However, it’s very interesting that Asus has given the relatively unknown chipmaker a bill of confidence by using its chips in this upcoming tablet. The SoC business is one with low capital costs: all one needs is to buy a license from ARM, buy some time on a fabricator like TSMC and hire a few engineers. Presto, you have a company that can, hypothetically, compete with established giants.

Does this mean that a bunch of no-name upstart chipmakers from China are going to take giants like Qualcomm head on? No. It does mean, however, that in the expanding sector of low cost and mid-range smartphones and tablets, the market is set to become quickly competitive. This will be great for consumers as it will drive down the cost of performance and spur innovation.

Update: NotebookItalia is reporting that Asus will be using Rockchip not Allwinner.

asus tablet me102a me372cg Allwinner SoC appears in Asus tablet