Today At IFA 2018, Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Mr Richard Yu unveiled the Kirin 980, the system on a chip (SoC) that has thrown down the gauntlet to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset.
Boasting many firsts – it’s world’s first commercial 7nm SoC, and it’s the first with a Dual NPU (neural processing unit). AI Kirin 980 combines best-in-class performance, efficiency, connectivity features, and Dual NPU AI processing power.
“Last year, we showed the world the potential of On-Device AI with the Kirin 970, and this year, we’ve designed an all-round powerhouse that not only features outstanding AI capabilities, but also brings cutting-edge raw performance to consumers,” said Mr. Yu. “Equipped with all-new CPU, GPU and Dual NPU, the Kirin 980 is the ultimate engine to power next-generation productivity and entertainment applications.”
The cutting-edge 7nm process technology means that the Kirin 980 has 6.9 billion transistors within a 1cm2 die size (that’s smaller than a thumbnail) which is 1.6 times more than their previous generation SoC. The 7nm process also brings 20% improved performance and 40% improved power efficiency compared to the 10nm process (which was used for the Kirin 970 which powers the P20 Pro).
The Kirin 980 is the first SoC to embed Cortex-A76 based cores – another first – which are 75% more powerful and 58% more efficient compared to their previous generation. The Kirin architecture consists of 8 cores: two super-big cores to handle immediate, intensive workloads; two big cores for sustained performance; and four little cores to tackle everyday, light activities with extreme power efficiency. All of this means that any device using the Kirin 980 will be able to launch apps faster and have an improved multitasking experience.
Yet another first is the integration of the Mali-G76 GPU into the Kirin 980, which brings 46% better graphics processing power at 178% improved power efficiency over the previous generation. Mali-G76 also features clock boosting technology that uses AI to intelligently identify gaming workloads and adjust resource allocation for optimal gaming performance.
Huawei debuted the On-Device AI concept with the Mate 10 Pro in 2017. The Dual NPU Kirin 980 builds on that with greater processing power and intelligence. The Kirin 980 can recognize up to 4,500 images per minute, up by 120% compared to the Kirin 970. Additionally, the Kirin 980 supports common AI frameworks such as Caffee, Tensorflow and Tensorflow Lite, and provides a suite of tools that simplifies the difficulty of engineering On-Device AI, allowing developers to easily tap into the processing power of the Dual NPU.
Known for its market-leading smartphone photography, Huawei is upping its game by integrating its proprietary fourth-generation ISP (image signal processor) into the SoC. Not only does it bring a 46% increase in data throughput compared to its predecessor, the new ISP also provides better support for multi-camera configurations, as well as an all-new HDR colour reproduction technology that can manipulate picture contrast to highlight objects on various parts of an image. In addition, the Kirin 980 utilizes the Multi-pass noise reduction solution that accurately removes artifacts without scrubbing away image details, resulting in better quality on images taken in low-light scenarios. Another new feature of the ISP is improved motion tracking. When you try to snap a photo of a moving person, the ISP can still recognize the subject with 97.4% accuracy, which should mean less blurry photos.
When it comes to video, the Kirin 980 adopts a new pipeline dedicated to processing video captures, allowing the camera module to shoot videos with a 33% shorter delay.
Huawei has integrated the world’s first modem supporting LTE Cat.21 with a peak download speed of 1.4Gbps – yet another world first. The Kirin 980 also supports carrier aggregation, even across frequency bands, so you’re free to choose your mobile operators and still enjoy the same premium connectivity experience, regardless of you are.
According to Android Authority, the first Kirin 980-powered Mate Series (the Mate 20) device is scheduled to be unveiled on 16 October in London.