On IFA today, Huawei announced its latest Kirin 980 system-on-chip, which boasts a number of world leaders. It is the first 7nm mobile processor, the first built around the ARM Cortex-A76 CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the first with a Cat.21 smartphone modem that supports speeds of up to 1.4 Gbps, and the first piece supporting 2.133 MHz LPDDR4X RAM. Kirin 980 has 6.9 billion transistors, but I've seen it for myself, and it's no bigger than a thumbnail.
The road to today's announcement started three years ago for Huawei, with the company engaging more than 1000 senior semiconductor design experts and churning through more than 5,000 engineering prototypes. The end result is about 20 percent speed improvement and 40 percent reduction in power consumption compared to Huawei's previous generation.
But the product Huawei really wants to compare Kirin 980 against is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, the piece that is featured in almost all Android flagship phones that are not made by Huawei. It is worth noting that 845 has been out for many months now, while Huawei 980 will not be in any retail units until next month (Huawei let it plan its Mate 20 announcement for October 1
On the memory front, Huawei says that means faster launches across the full range of the world's most popular apps. In game applications, 980 has been shown to produce 22 percent higher frame rate than 845, and power consumption when said gaming is said to be 32 percent lower.
Photography is another major upgrade for the Kirin chip, according to Huawei's numbers. Kirin 980 is 46 percent faster in camera treatment than its predecessor, with a 23 percent improvement in energy efficiency during recording and 33 percent improvement in latency.
Huawei has doubled on its AI processes and adds a dual NPU (Neural Processor Unit) device to Kirin 980, which performs AI-Assisted Image Recognition Tasks with a speed of 4,500 images per minute. Similarly, when Snapdragon 845 2.371 and Apple's A11, which has performance cues in other categories, get only 1,458. AI also supports the efficiency of Kirin 980, as Huawei says it uses it to predict the load more accurately and intelligently, making it more responsive to the user's power needs – both when the chip needs to look up more kernels and when it's done and can save energy by slowing down.
Kirin 980 architecture has eight cores: two are for so-called turbo performance, two are for long-term performance, and the last and least four are used to maximize Efficiency when not much happens.
Kirin 980 will offer the world's fastest Wi-Fi speed on the smartphone, clock at 1,732 Mbps, which is significantly higher than the Snapdragon 845's best of 866 Mbps with a Qualcomm modem or 1083 Mbps with a third-party modem. So, with all calculations that matter to an end user, the new Kirin chip is becoming a winner.
Huawei, with Mate 20, and its underrated Honor, with Magic 2, is going to put Kirin 980 into retail units by the end of the year.