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Report: Lenovo to hire more design engineers

Posted: 03 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone? IC design? tablets?

Lenovo, the second largest smartphone supplier in China, has maintained a small IC design team consisting of about 10 people over the last decade. Word on the street now is the company intends to augment its chip design business with a special focus on smartphones and tablets so it will hire about 100 engineers by the middle of this year, a China-based industry source with direct knowledge of Lenovo's recruitment told EE Times.

Forty engineers will be hired from Shenzhen and 60 in Beijing, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous. Lenovo did not immediately respond to questions about these plans.

Unlike Samsung or Apple, Lenovo has a checkered history of adopting different apps processors from a variety of suppliers for its smartphones. The company adopted MediaTek's MT6573 in the Lenovo A60 smartphone in 2011, while it became the first company-outside Samsung-in 2012 to design in Samsung Electronics' quad-core apps processor Exynos 4 in its LePhone K860.

Lenovo, however, announced earlier this year a 5.5-inch smartphone, dubbed K900, by integrating Intel's first dual-core Atom chip for phones. The Atom Z2580 is said to have roughly doubled the CPU performance of Intel's single-core Medfield processor used in Lenovo's K800 phone, which was introduced a year ago.

While Lenovo might have been enjoying its freedom in choosing the best apps processor available on the market, reality bit hard, sources said, when Samsung Electronics refused to supply its newest version of the Exynos apps processor to the Chinese company.

Indeed, on the growing Chinese smartphone market last year, Lenovo became Samsung's biggest rival-with Samsung holding a 17.7 per cent share, with Lenovo at 13.2 per cent and Apple at 11 per cent.

It's far from clear if an internal group of mere 100 IC engineers can make a dent in the already crowded apps processor market. And yet, as Shao Yang, CMO of Huawei Device, recently said in an interview, having a chip division of its own could help [the handset company] "negotiate better with other semiconductor companies."

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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