Huawei Announces Kirin 980 Soc, Promises To Be Overthrow Snapdragon 845 In Performance
HiSilicon, the chip manufacturing company under Huawei, has announced a new smartphone chip produced on the 7nm process that promises to overthrow the Snapdragon 845 in terms of performance. The Kirin 980 will be the company’s new flagship smartphone processor and will first release in the upcoming Huawei Mate 20 high-end smartphone.
The Kirin 980 is the direct successor to the Kirin 970 (10 nm) and the most important change is the step to the smaller, cheaper and more efficient 7 nm production process. In terms of raw transistor count, the 980 offers 6.9 billion transistors whereas the predecessor only offered 5.5 billion. In terms of CPU architecture, Huawei has jumped from Cortex A73 to A76 and has apparently made some in-house improvements to the chip architecture as well. The new CPU will have cores in total: two slower but energy-efficient A55 cores running at 1.8 GHz, two medium-performance A76 cores at 1.9 GHz and another two A76 cores running at 2.6 GHz for peak performance situations. These two cores won’t be able to hold the high clock speed for continuous amounts, which is the reason why there are two lower clocked A76 cores as well. The processor will be accompanied by LPDDR4 memory running at 2133MHz.
It’s not surprising that Huawei is heavily touting its neural network processing unit and AI-assisted features as well. There are two of these neural network processors built-in, which should assist with features such as image recognition – although we’ll have wait and see how it works in practice before the practicality of the Kirin 980’s neural network processors can be judged.
In terms of the GPU, the company promises that the graphical performance of the Kirin 980 exceeds that of its predecessor by a good 46 percent. The Mali G76MP10 only has ten cores – which is less than the Kirin 970. However, Anandtech has reported that the ten cores are much bigger and more powerful in size, each carrying double the amount of render and texture units.
Regarding connectivity speeds, the Kirin 980 will see a number of improvements as well. LTE is rated at Category 21, meaning that phones with the new soc onboard would be able to reach LTE speeds of 1.4 Gbit/s. Regular wireless internet via Wi-Fi should be able to reach theoretical speeds of no less than 1.7 GHz.
Huawei has explicitly stated that their new system-on-a-chip is an improvement over the current most popular flagship Android soc, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845. That isn’t surprising, given that the Kirin is produced on a smaller production process. Regular CPU performance is faster than the 845, and the company claims that GPU performance between the two is equal. However, the Kirin 980 features a ‘boost mode’ that allows the 980 to overtake the 845 in terms of performance, although it’s not known how long Huawei’s chip can sustain this boosted clock speed. However, Snapdragon is currently also working on a 7nm smartphone chip which it will unveil this year for a release in early 2019.
We will see the first Huawei device running on the Kirin 980 soc in October. The company will officially unveil the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro smartphones – both carrying the soc – on the 16th of that month. The Magic 2 smartphone from sister company Honor will also have the new and improved soc built-in.