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Oppo goes custom with its new 6nm MariSilicon X imaging NPU with 20-bit HDR pipeline

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Smartphone manufacturer Oppo has announced it’s developed its own in-house nerual processing unit (NPU) to put inside its future mobile devices. This new 6nm chipset, which Oppo is calling MariSilicon X, includes a the NPU, an image signal processor (ISP) and a custom memory architecture, all of which work together to improve the imaging capabilities of mobile photography.

Oppo says the MariSilicon X NPU, which is only a small portion of the entire chipset required to power a smartphone, can process up to 18 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of int8 at a rate of 11.6 TOPS per watt. For comparison, the Neural Engine inside Apple’s A15 Bionic used in its iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max devices tops out at 15.8 TOPS.

To put those numbers into a real-world scenario, Oppo says its MariSilicon X was able to process its AI noise reduction algorithm 20 times faster while using less than half the power of a Snapdragon 888-powered smartphone. While one cherry-picked benchmark isn’t indicative of overall performance, it does show how Oppo’s vertical integration of its algorithms and custom silicon can work together to quickly process information while preserving battery life.

MariSilicon X can process up to 8.5GB per second with shared DDR memory and uses a 20-bit HDR imaging pipeline that can run algorithms directly on RAW data, rather than using the compressed data as some other chipsets do. Oppo says applying its algorithms on the original imaging data yields an 8dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The NPU also uses what Oppo refers to as a Dual Image Pipeline with ‘double raw super sampling.’ What that means is MariSilicon X works with RGBW sensors to capture RGB and W signals separately then fuse the data together to get an ‘8.6dB improvement in signal-to-noise ratio and a 1.7x improvement in texture quality,’

This is particularly notable considering OPPO announced it was working to develop a ‘Next Generation’ RGBW sensor back in August at its ‘Future Imaging Technology Launch Event.’ As we noted in our initial coverage, ‘Oppo claims [the RGBW sensor] can capture 60% more light than previous-generation sensors while offering a 35% reduction in noise’ and says it’s ‘developed a new “Quadra pixel binning algorithm” designed to reduce moiré, which was a problem with early generations of its RGBW sensors.’

Together, the MariSilicon X and the ‘Next Generation RGBW’ sensor could make for a powerful combination in Oppo’s forthcoming smartphones, with its 20-bit Raw capabilities, 4K Ultra HDR video, 4K Night Video and more. You can watch the full 51-minute Oppo Inno Day presentation below:


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