SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Allwinner Technology is raising the ante in its quest for the mobile jackpot. The Chinese SoC developer is planning an IPO on the Shenzhen stock exchange as it prepares its first eight-core product for a variety of systems, including entry-level notebooks.
It's not clear when the public offering will be ready, how much Allwinner might raise, or how it would spend the money. However, the chip designer has released an aggressive roadmap for now through 2015 that includes everything from high-end 64-bit chips to low-end SoCs for wearables.
Allwinner made a name for itself grabbing marketshare with single-core ARM-based SoCs used in a flood of low-cost tablets from second- and third-tier OEMs, mainly in China. Now it's setting its sights on a significantly broader set of targets.
"Notebooks is one area we intend to invest more time into," Ben El-Baz, international marketing director for Allwinner, said during a recent presentation for US press and analysts. Top-tier OEMs are interested in low-cost clamshell designs using a mix of Android, Chrome OS, and Windows RT. The products will probably use Allwinner's A8x series of 28nm chips shipping early next year with four ARM Cortex-A15 and four A7 processors in a big.little arrangement, running at up to 2 GHz.
The company plans to follow up before July with a quad-core variant. A separate product called the WX for wearables is still in the planning phase but is scheduled to ship late next year. In 2015, Allwinner plans to deliver its first 64-bit mobile SoCs using ARM's A53 and A57 cores. It is targeting twice the graphics performance of the A8x series and will use a 20 or 16nm process.
El-Baz said Allwinner's success is due in part to its proximity to Shenzhen. The supply chain there can crank out a complete design, including a new printed circuit board, within two weeks after specs for an SoC are frozen. The Zhuhai company is also China's only mobile SoC maker with its own power management IC.
Its single-core Cortex-A8 and dual-core A7 SoCs power low-cost tablets sold by discount retailers in the US, including Best Buy and Kmart. Its current quad-core A7 SoCs are winning its first sockets in tier-one OEMs about to be announced, he said.
"While Mediatek comes from smartphones and is moving into tablets, we come from media tablets," El-Baz said of his company's closest competitor in China.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times