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The Surge C1 is Xiaomi's return to the in-house chipset market

Xiaomi revitalizes its Surge line of processors. (Source: YouTube)
Xiaomi revitalizes its Surge line of processors. (Source: YouTube)
A select handful of mobile device OEMs design their own custom silicon, and Xiaomi has just re-joined these ranks with the new Surge C1. Unlike other first-party chipsets, this one is a new image signal processor designed specifically for the company's new flagship foldable device. It controls a cutting-edge liquid lens, as well as a multi-use sensor.

Xiaomi kicked the Surge line of SoCs off in the form of in-house mobile processors, and in hopes that they would one day rival the likes of Samsung’s Exynos or Apple’s Axx Bionic products. However, things failed to pan out like that, and the Surge project was eventually relegated to the development of component chipsets.

Earlier reports had suggested that its next product would power small devices with wireless technology, such as those of a next-gen Xiaomi AIoT ecosystem. Therefore, few may have predicted the real use-case of the latest Surge chipset to hit the market.

The C1 has arrived as the Mi Mix Fold’s new, first-party image-signalling processor (ISP). It is dedicated to the control of the premium flexible phablet’s new multi-function telephoto camera. This sensor’s settings range from macro shots at distances of as little as 3cm to 30x digital hybrid zoom, which is achieved using new liquid-lens technology.

The Surge C1 is also responsible for Xiaomi’s new “3A” algorithm, developed to deliver auto-focus and auto-exposure, as well as automatic white-balance control while also conserving power, in the Mi Mix Fold. Xiaomi asserts that these cutting-edge additions makes the camera in question more akin to the human eye, and, thus, needs a custom-designed ISP – which is where the C1 comes in.

It will be interesting to see how it measures up against its often SoC-integrated counterparts on the market. They include the Snapdragon 888’s Spectra 580 ISP, which is also capable of 3A computations, as well as 3 4K HDR recordings at once.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 03 > The Surge C1 is Xiaomi's return to the in-house chipset market
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2021-03-31 (Update: 2021-03-31)