In recent years as a clockwork, Huawei has released two flagship series. In the spring, the photography-focused “P” series was released, and in the autumn, the manufacturer spread the year’s most technologically advanced handset with the Mate line. Such flagship phones must be powered by flagship chips, but Huawei has a major disadvantage there thanks to the United States.
The rumored Huawei Kirin 9000L chip can power the Huawei P50 series
In May last year, the US Department of Commerce amended an export rule that forced all foundries on the planet that use US technology to obtain a license before they can legally ship components to Huawei. This has put a dent in the manufacturer̵
7;s plans. The company was TSMC’s second largest customer after Apple, and the foundry managed to deliver some groundbreaking Kirin 9000 chipsets before the new rules came into force. These were used on the Mate 40 series and will drive the foldability Companion X2. What makes them groundbreaking is that the chips were produced by TSMC using the process node 5nm. Each chip reportedly contains more than 15 billion transistors.
Weibo tipster reveals some specifications for the rumored 5nm Kirin 9000L chipset
Huawei also designed the Kirin 9000E. This off-shoot of the Kirin 9000 has a large NPU (Neural Processing Unit) core and a small core compared to the two large NPU cores and a small core found on the latter. The NPU component is used to process tasks related to artificial intelligence (AI). The only other difference is that while the Kirin 9000 has a 24-core GPU, the Kirin 9000E has a GPU with 22 cores. According to a post on China’s Weibo website (via Huawei Central), another Kirin 9000 variant may be on the way. It is rumored that Kirin 9000L has a lower clock speed compared to Kirin 9000 and 9000E. While the clock speed of the large core of the Kirin 9000 weighs in at 3.13 GHz, the Kirin 9000L’s large core runs at 2.86 GHz. Like the Kirin 9000E, the “L” version will also have a large NPU core and a small one. And in addition, compared to the aforementioned 24 and 22 GPU cores on the Kirin 9000 and 9000E respectively, the Kirin 9000L carries 18 GPU cores on the Mali-G78 GPU it is equipped with.
Kirin 9000L is reportedly to be produced by Samsung Foundry, the second largest contract foundry in the world after TSMC. The chip will be made using the foundry’s 5nm EUV process node. EUV, or Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography, allows the foundry to mark waffles with incredibly thin patterns for placing circuits on a chip. The thinner the line, the higher the number of transistors that can fit in a chip, making them more powerful and energy efficient. However, Samsung Foundry is affected by the change in US export rules, so it is not entirely clear whether Samsung will be able to participate in the production of the Kirin 9000L if such a chip is even in operation.
It is rumored that the Huawei P50 series is powered by the Kirin 9000L chipset
What is not yet clear is the future of the important relationship between the United States and China. Under the previous US administration, many Chinese companies were seen as threats to US national security. Huawei and TikTok parents ByteDance were seen as a security risk, and Huawei said it had too close ties to the Chinese Communist government. On the other hand, OnePlus seems to be able to sell its phones and accessories in the US without any problems.
So far, talks between the new Biden administration and China have not shown much promise, according to media reports. It is possible that China may demand that Huawei be removed from the device list (which prohibits the use of supplies available from the US supply chain) and have the chip restrictions eliminated before agreeing to sit down with the US. But it seems that the United States has influence and dominance over Huawei, so we would not expect the Biden administration to regret the bans and restrictions that hurt Huawei so deeply without getting anything first from China.