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In an attempt to differentiate itself from its competitors and equip its smartphones and tablets with unique capabilities, HTC (High Tech Computer) is rumoured to develop its own system-on-chip devices for own-brand products. Although the company could try to form its own chip design business unit, HTC has secretly collaborated with ST-Ericsson and Qualcomm for a jointly-developed chip.

Throughout its history as a maker of own-brand smartphones as well as contract maker of handsets, HTC has used various application and baseband processors from makers like Intel, Marvell, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and even Samsung. But despite of very close relationship with Qualcomm in the recent years, HTC decided to team up with two partners, ST-Ericsson and Qualcomm, to design its own SoC for future smartphones.

HTC has signed a memorandum of cooperation for the application processor with Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson for a low-cost application processor(s). The first special chips for HTC will be made sometimes next year, according to China Times web-site. No actual details about the forthcoming SoCs are known; moreover, it is unclear whether eventually HTC will attempt to design an own SoC itself, or will just ask its partners to tailor chip solutions for HTC handsets.

Both leading smartphone suppliers nowadays - Apple and Samsung Electronics - develop their own system-on-chip solutions for their flagship models. Analysts believe that such in-house design not only saves money and improves margins, but also lets developers to better tailor hardware for software and vice versa. HTC's rumored approach does not really make sense for lowering costs, but would rather improve quality and feature-set of smartphones and/or tablets.

It is necessary to note that HTC is controlled by Cher Wang, one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Taiwan, who is also the chairwoman of Via Technologies, a struggling fabless designer of chips with licenses to develop both ARM- and x86-based chips. It is unclear why HTC does not want to absorb Via Technologies and obtain a team of professional chip developers.

HTC, Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson and Via Technologies did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: HTC, ARM, Android, Windows Phone, ST-Ericsson, Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, Via Technologies

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