Of course, anyone who visits a China fabless that supplies apps processors will get an earful about “turnkey solutions.” Allwinner’s no exception. But when asked how their turnkey solution would be different from MediaTek’s, for example, Xue said, “The biggest problem with turnkey solutions today is that they don’t offer much differentiation for ODMs/OEMs,” since a typical turnkey solution includes every component one needs to build a tablet or a smartphone.
Allwinner’s goal is to offer more diversified choices to whitebox vendors and ODMs/OEMs.
The company takes the approach of sharing a reference platform with its entire ecosystem partners in the supply chain (boards, parts and components vendors, software developers and hardware box manufacturers) so that they, too, can participate in the platform.
“Think about building a house,” said Xue. “If you are a system company, you want to choose different windows, different doors and different furniture for your own house. You want to diversify.”
The process of building a reference platform needs to be interactive. The goal is to allow a system vendor who wants to build its own house to pick a window among many different types available. The key is that each window needs to have been already designed to fit the house -- or a fit the reference platform, Xue explained.
Most of those in the supply chain with whom Allwinner has been working are based in the Pearl River Delta. But some are now also from other parts of Asia or Europe, Xue added.
Today, Allwinner has 460 employees, 400 of whom are “R&D engineers,” including a sizeable number of software engineers, according to the company.
Not to be outdone by Actions’ huge HQ on the edge of Zhuhai, Allwinner is currently building its own dream home, which will be ready next year.
Mockup of Allwinner's new HQ building to be opened in 2014 in Zhuhai.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.