The Wall Street Journal reports Xiaomi is looking to break ties with Qualcomm-- as part of "aspirations to join the top tier" of smartphone makers it plans develop own mobile device chips.
The Xiaomi processor is supposedly dubbed "Pinecone" and is set for release "within a month." The next Xiaomi smartphone is the Mi 6, which should be announced on March (should the company stick with its yearly release cycle), meaning the timeframe makes sense. As for the production know how behind the processor, Xiaomi paid $15 million for technology from Datang subsidiary Leadcore Technology.
But why would Xiaomi go for custom chips? A first reason is cost savings, since producing own processors probably costs less than buying them off a 3rd party supplier. A second reason is tighter integration of software and hardware, allowing for more innovative features (for example, Huawei's Kirin CPU provides the Mate 9 with more optimised performance based on user habits).
In addition, supply is reportedly also an issue with Qualcomm chips-- Samsung currently makes Qualcomm chips, and has the grip over the latest Snapdragon processor, the 835. This is the reason why the LG 2017 flagship, the G6, uses the Snapdragon 821 instead of the latest model.
Xiaomi will not be making an appearance at Mobile World Congress 2017, meaning further announcements on its plans have to come at a separate event.