OPPO is reportedly working on designing a custom SoC in-house. An internal memo circulated by OPPO's leadership to its employees revealed the "Mariana Plan" which confirms the company's intention of designing its own custom processor. The name is a nod to the world's deepest ocean trench which is considered as one of the worst environments on the planet. The company is using this codename to refer to the difficult task of creating custom chips.
The initiative is being led by a technical committee headed by Qualcomm's former technical director, Chen Yan. He was previously the head of OPPO's software research center. The technical committee itself was established in October last year. OPPO is serious about building its custom chips as it has also recruited engineers from Realme and OnePlus for the task. Both these companies are owned by the same parent company as OPPO, and have borrowed tech from OPPO for their products.
OPPO's CEO had previously announced that the company would be investing 50 billion yuan ($7 billion) on research and development over the next three years which will also include building its own chips. While speaking to C114 recently, the company said that designing a custom SoC is a long-term investment for it. The chip will be used to enhance OPPO's own products and their user experience instead of competing with its existing supply-chain partners like Qualcomm and MediaTek. OPPO could use the custom mobile chip to improve image processing and offer other additional features on its smartphones. Google does something similar with its Pixel lineup and ships them with a custom Pixel Visual Core and Neural Core that it designed with Intel.
By designing its own SoC, OPPO will also be able to create a backup plan for itself in case the U.S. government decides to put it on an Entity list like Huawei and block its access to tech from U.S. companies. Some other major Android OEMs have previously developed custom SoCs for their products with varying levels of success. However, most of them end up going back to solutions from Qualcomm due to licensing and performance issues.