Huawei launches Kirin 980, the world’s first 7nm mobile AI chip

2 min read

Huawei has debuted a new Artificial Intelligence chip, the Kirin 980, which boasts a number of world firsts. According to Huawei, the Kirin 980 is the world’s first:

  • 7nm process mobile phone SoC chipset
  • Cortex-A76 architecture chipset
  • Dual NPU design
  • Chipset to support LTE Cat.21 with speeds up to 1.4Gbps.

The Kirin 980 is less than 1 square centimeter and integrates 6.9 billion transistors. The architecture of the Kirin 980 has eight cores: two are for turbo performance, two are for long-term performance, and the last and smallest four are used to maximize power efficiency. It uses Flex-Scheduling intelligence mechanism to allow the CPU to adapt in heavy, medium and light-load scenarios by reducing its power consumption and giving users a longer battery life.

The Kirin 980’s performance and efficiency improvements

The Kirin 980 uses Mali-G76 GPU improving performance by 46%. The fourth-generation ISP utilises a multi-pass noise reduction to capture quality images and preserve important details. This ISP also has a dedicated video pipeline to effectively improve video clarity and reduce shooting delays by 33%. The Kirin 980 7nm compared with the 10nm process, improves performance by 20%, power efficiency by 40% and the overall energy efficiency of the Kirin 980 by 58%.

Huawei has doubled down on its AI processing, adding a dual NPU to the Kirin 980, which performs AI-assisted image recognition tasks at a rate of 4,500 images per minute. The NPU is optimized for vector math that powers machine learning frameworks like Facebook’s Caffe2 and Google’s TensorFlow. Huawei says its heterogeneous computing structure — HiAI — automatically distributes voice recognition, natural language processing, and computer vision workloads across it dynamically.

The Kirin 980 will also offer the world’s fastest smartphone Wi-Fi speed, clocking in at 1,732Mbps.

Huawei’s bid to defeat Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845

The performance improvements you can see in the Kirin 980 are all key to Huawei’s plan to oust Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 as the top mobile AI chip. At the moment, the Snapdragon 845 is the chip that features in Android phones not produced by Huawei.

Huawei believes the advantages are significant, claiming its chip has “20 percent better bandwidth and 22 percent lower latency than the Snapdragon 845,” while “in gaming applications, the 980 has been shown to produce 22 percent higher frame rates than the 845, and its power consumption when gaming is said to be 32 percent lower” (The Verge).

Android Authority have done a detailed fact check looking at the reality of Huawei’s claims – it’s well worth reading.

For a list of other technical specifications, read the Huawei blog.

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