Huawei announced its newest system-on-a-chip, the Kirin 980, today at the IFA 2018. Three years ago the company had engaged more than 1,000 senior semiconductor design experts and had developed more than 5,000 engineering prototypes, after which the Kirin 980 became the final creation with a 20 percent speed improvement and a 40 percent reduction in power consumption as compared with Huawei’s previous generation.
Huawei Kirin 980 boasts a number of world firsts: the first 7nm mobile processor built around ARM’s Cortex-A76 CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the first with a Cat.21 smartphone modem that supports speeds up to 1.4Gbps, and the first chip to support 2,133MHz LPDDR4X RAM. The Kirin 980 has 6.9 billion transistors and is no bigger than a thumbnail.
With the Kirin 980, Huawei wants to challenge Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 with an impressive self-quoted margin of improvement. Concerning memory, Huawei says the Kirin 980 has 20 percent better bandwidth and 22 percent lower latency than the Snapdragon 845.
On the memory front, Huawei says the Kirin 980 has 20 percent better bandwidth and 22 percent lower latency than the Snapdragon 845 which accounts for faster app launches. Additionally, Huawei Kirin 980 processor is said to generate 22 percent higher frame rates than the Snapdragon 845 on the gaming front, with a 32 percent lower power consumption.
Moreover, concerning photography performance, the Kirin 980 uses a new dual ISP (image signal processor) thus being 46 percent faster at camera processing than its predecessor, with a comparative 23 percent improvement in power efficiency while recording, and 33 percent improvement in latency.
Furthermore, Huawei’s chip design put an emphasis on accelerated AI processing. Huawei Kirin 980 processor comprises of an additional dual NPU (neural processor unit) that aids accelerated AI-assisted image recognition tasks at a rate of 4,500 images per minute, which is quite impressive compared with Snapdragon 845’s 2,371 and Apple A11’s 1,458. Moreover, the Kirin chip’s enhanced AI helps power efficiency with its accurate and intelligent prediction of load requirements, making it more responsive to the power needs of the user – both when the chip needs to power up and when it needs to slow down to save energy.
On the architecture front, the Kirin 980 incorporates eight cores – two for ‘turbo performance’, two for long-term performance, and the last and smallest four for maximizing power efficiency when there is lesser activity. It also promises to offer the world’s fastest smartphone Wi-Fi speed at 1,732Mbps, which is substantially higher than the Snapdragon 845’s best of 866Mbps with a Qualcomm modem or 1083Mbps with a third-party modem.
Huawei’s Mate 20, and its sub-brand Honor’s Magic 2 are going to be making use of the Kirin 980 in retail devices by the end of the year, with the probable announcement date of the Mate 20 being October 16.