Huawei Beats Qualcomm to First Mobile 7nm Technology Chip

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It used to be a battle between Apple’s A series chips and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8xx series chips but the world of mobile System-on-a-chip (SoCs) just had a new competitor as Huawei’s new chip have is poised to dominate both.

Huawei has unveiled its Kirin 980 chip, the world’s first smartphone chip built with 7nm technology at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

The chip which is expected to power the Huawei Mate 20. The chip is manufactured by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and it uses an octacore architecture that mixes big, medium and little cores for efficiency.

“Last year, we showed the world the potential of On-Device AI with the Kirin 970, and this year we’ve designed an all-around powerhouse that not only features outstanding AI capabilities, but also brings cutting-edge raw performance to consumers, equipped with all-new CPU, GPU, and Dual NPU, the Kirin 980 is the ultimate engine to power next-generation productivity and entertainment applications.”  Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group, said during the company’s keynote presentation at IFA 2018.

kirin 980

Apart from being the first 7nm SoC, there are a lot of firsts that the Kirin 980 boasts of;

It’s the first smartphone chip built with a 7-nanometer process and the first to feature ARM’s Cortex-A76 CPU as well as its new Mali-G76 GPU. It’s the first SoC to support the ultra-fast 2,133Mhz LPDDR4X memory, and the first with an integrated 1.4Gbps Cat.21 modem, too.

The two big Cortex-A76 cores run at 2.6 GHz and are only used when taxing processes like gaming is in process. The dual medium Cortex A 76 cores clocks at 1.92GHZ and handles processes like browsing and social media functionalities. The small quad cores are Cortex-A55 and clocks at 1.8GHz. They are used for processes that require less energy. The processor has AI capabilities that enable it to tap different cores at once to maximise performance.

When compared to its 10nm partners, the 7nm architecture boasts of its benefits like 20 percent faster performance and 40 percent decrease in power consumption. This will notably deliver battery life improvements.

Engadget notes that

The Kirin 980 also packs two Neural Processing Units (NPUs), which Huawei says helps devices run AI tasks faster and better than other chips. The Kirin can recognize up to 4,500 images per minute on the Resnet 50 model, while Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and Apple’s A11 identified 2,371 and 1,458 respectively, according to Huawei’s tests.

Also debuting in the new Kirin chipset is the Mali G76 GPU, which should offer 30 percent more efficiency and let devices run a wider variety of high-end games. Then, there’s the 1.4Gbps Cat 21 LTE modem, which should offer faster cellular data transfers, and new support for 2,133MHz LPDDR4X RAM should enable speedier multitasking. The Kirin 980 will also be compatible with Huawei’s Balong 5G modem in preparation for next-gen networks, and packs dual image signal processors that promise better photo quality.

Information available on Mashable, who is present at the IFA reads;

‘According to Huawei, the new chip offers a 75 percent performance improvement over the last generation, with a 58 percent improvement in power efficiency. The company showed us a lot (and I really mean a lot) of charts (that we weren’t allowed to share) which show the Kirin 980 to be significantly faster than Snapdragon’s 845 chip.

Many device makers will probably opt for Kirin 980 if it performs as expected when released with the Huawei Mate 20 and 20 pro.  The Kirin 970 has proven itself to be almost as fast as the Apple A series and Snapdragon 8xxs  series, and the 980 has definitely turned up the heat on Qualcomm.

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