As our camera shootouts have shown over the past few months, having your own dedicated imaging chip can greatly improve camera performance, and OPPO’s upcoming flagship series is going to make this leap too. Announced today at the company’s third-annual Inno Day tech event, OPPO has built its own silicon to handle image processing, and it will debut in the next Find X series, presumably called the Find X4. Named MariSilicon X, OPPO’s new in-house chip is built on 6nm process technology and combines an advanced NPU, ISP, and multi-tier memory architecture in one chip.
At a media briefing held before the announcement, OPPO’s senior director of imaging Bo Jiang said the physical restrictions in smartphones limits how much camera hardware can be improved — there’s only so much room for a larger sensor or longer zoom lens, for example — but “software algorithm offers unlimited possibilities — and this is why OPPO developed the MariSilicon X.”
Essentially, this gives OPPO more control over the image processing pipeline, from capturing the image information to processing said information to the final result: a photo or video that has been through a myriad of digital processing. OPPO’s Jiang said the MariSilicon X places emphasis on processing the photo from the RAW domain, which includes much more information, but processing this information requires computing power that, apparently, previous Snapdragon ISPs could not handle. During the media briefing, OPPO showed off samples of photos and videos shot in challenging conditions (extreme low light, against harsh backlight) captured by a MariSilicon X device (presumably the Find X4) and the Find X3 Pro (which uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888’s ISP) and the MariSilicon X samples looked clearly superior.
According to OPPO, the MariSilicon X’s NPU can handle 18 trillion operations per second with a dedicated memory bandwidth of up to 8.5GB/s. Having dedicated memory allows the MariSilicon X to be more power-efficient because it reduces unnecessary read-write cycles. The ISP also supports 20bit image capture — apparently 4x greater dynamic range than what the Find X3 Pro’s ISP could muster.
But the MariSilicon X’s raw power will come in handy most when handling OPPO’s self-developed RGBW sensor and image algorithms, like OPPO’s “night video” shooting mode, which artificially brightens up a scene in videos. On the OPPO Find X3 Pro, “night video” mode can only shoot in 1080p, the MariSilicon X will allow devices to shoot “night video” in 4K resolution.
It’s worth noting that the MariSilicon X is purely an imaging chip, and the OPPO Find X4 Pro will still very likely run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. While the MariSilicon X probably does indeed bring major ISP upgrades over what was in the Snapdragon 888, it remains to be seen how the MariSilicon X stacks up against Qualcomm’s improved ISP in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Of course, when we get our hands on devices with MariSilicon X and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, we will put the cameras to the test. OPPO said the Find X4 series will be announced and released in Q1 of 2022.
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