It’s IFA 2018 now and Huawei just announced the new Kirin 980 chipset. It’s actually in line with the launch dates of previous year – which means Huawei has not broken the yearly schedule yet. One interesting thing is that the Mate 20 was leaked a few days ago – and we’re expecting that phone to use the new chipset too. This is Huawei’s yearly tradition after all, where the Mate series will use the latest chipset. We’re hinted that the Huawei Mate 20 will arrive in October.

We’ve done a piece about why chipset matters and how it works. Click here to learn more.

Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 980

In his IFA 2018 keynote titled “The Ultimate Power of Mobile AI”, Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Mr. Richard Yu introduced the HiSilicon Kirin 980. As the world’s first commercial SoC manufactured with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company’s (TSMC) 7nm process, Huawei boasts that the Kirin 980 can deliver best-in-class performance, efficiency, connectivity features, and Dual NPU AI processing power.

Last year, we showed the world the potential of On-Device AI with the Kirin 970, and this year, we’ve designed an all-round 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.

– Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Mr. Richard Yu

TSMC’s 7nm fabrication process technology enables Kirin 980 to be packed with 6.9 billion transistors within a 1cm2 die size, which is 1.6 times more from the previous generation. Huawei claims that the new process technology delivers 20% improved SoC performance and 40% improved SoC efficiency.

The Kirin 980 is also the first SoC to embed ARM Cortex-A76 cores, which are 75% more powerful and 58% more efficient compared to their previous generation.

The Kirin 980 is uses an octa-core configuration, which is comprised of:

  • 2x high-performance Cortex-A76 cores @ 2.6GHz
  • 2x high-efficiency Cortex-A76 cores @ 1.92GHz
  • 4x extreme efficiency Cortex-A55 cores @ 1.8GHz

Huawei has also developed a Kirin CPU subsystem with Flex-Scheduling technology that flexibly allocates the right cores to the right tasks. This solution designates the large high-performance cores to handle immediate, intensive workloads; whereas high-efficiency cores to provide sustained performance; and ultra-efficiency cores to tackle everyday, light and background tasks to conserve battery.

Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 980

Huawei has integrated the Mali-G76 GPU into the Kirin 980 and claims to deliver 46% greater graphics processing power at 178% improved power efficiency over the previous generation. Mali-G76 also features clock boosting technology that utilizes AI to intelligently identify gaming workloads and adjust resource allocation for optimal gaming performance.

Huawei has also developed Dual NPU on the Kirin 980 to further improve the On-Device AI technology. Just like having a dual-core CPU, the Dual NPU on the Kirin 980 claims to be able to recognize up to 4,600 images per minute, up 120% compared to Kirin 970. The new Kirin 980 also supports common AI frameworks such as Caffee, Tensorflow and Tensorflow Lite, and also providing SDK for development.

When we reviewed the Huawei P20 here, the camera is indeed fantastic. Now, Huawei has improved their proprietary ISP (image signal processing) chip that is integrated into the Kirin 980 chipset. Huawei claims 46% increase in data throughput compared to its predecessor. The new ISP also provides better support for multi-camera configurations, as well as an all-new HDR color reproduction technology that can manipulate picture contrast to highlight objects on various parts of an image.

In addition, Kirin 980 utilizes the multi-pass noise reduction solution that removes artifacts without losing image details. Another new feature of the ISP is improved motion tracking, claiming 97.4% accuracy while tracking a moving person.

Kirin 980 has also adopted a new pipeline dedicated to processing video captures, allowing the camera module to shoot videos with 33% shorter delay.

To deliver the best connectivity to users of Kirin 980-powered devices, Huawei integrated the world’s first modem supporting LTE Cat.21 with a peak download speed of 1.4Gbps. Additionally, the Kirin 980 supports carrier aggregation, even across frequency bands.