It is Huawei’s new SoC for the impending series of Mate 20 smartphones and represents an important qualitative leap for the manufacturer to assault the world number 1, currently held by Samsung.


Just like the last year at the IFA fair , Huawei has decided this year to bet on the announcement of its new star SoC, the Kirin 980 . Yes there has been product launch, as is the case of its first intelligent speaker Huawei AI Cube compatible with Alexa, as well as Huawei Locator , a location beacon to avoid losses or theft of any device.

However, all the attention is now on this chipset under the Kirin 980 package, the first with 7 nanometer manufacturing technology developed at the TSMC < / strong> (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company).

Building on 7 nanometers means being able to add a larger number of transistors inside a smaller chip. Specifically, this tablet has a whopping 6.9 billion transistors in a matrix size of 1 square centimeter (density increases 1.6 times with respect to 10 nanometers). According to Huawei, this design improves performance by 20% while reducing energy consumption by 40% compared to the previous generation. To get an idea, most smartphones have a SoC in 10 or more nanometers since the Kirin 980 is the first in the industry to go down to 7 nanometers. And this is a competitive advantage over the rest.

Taking a look at the CPU of this SoC, it is a design with 8 cores , four of them Cortex A-76 designed by ARM (presented in June past), and four other Cortex A-55 for less demanding tasks and less energy consumption. The maximum process frequency that can be achieved with the former is 3GHz, although Huawei has limited it to 2.6 GHz for reasons of overheating. However, this process frequency is already overwhelming. Remember that the higher the temperature of a chip, the lower the performance it is able to offer.

Meanwhile, the graphic subsystem is commanded by a Mali G-76 GPU designed to provide maximum performance in increasingly sophisticated applications and games with more elements to process. This design, again as the manufacturer assures, offers 46% more graphic power and an improvement in energy efficiency of 178%, including an artificial intelligence engine that detects workloads to allocate the appropriate computing resources for optimum performance.

Dual NPU

With the arrival of the Kirin 970 chipset last year, Huawei marked a before and after in one of the most repeated concepts of recent times in the technology industry: artificial intelligence. It was not the first manufacturer to incorporate this technology into smartphones, but the first to do so at the hardware level through a process unit designed expressly to mimic the neural networks of the human brain. It was the NPU (Neural Processing Unit), which is linked to the classic CPU and GPU. The main difference with respect to the software is that it considerably reduces the energy consumption of the terminals while the speed of response to any request (mainly image) increases almost exponentially.

In a first stage, in which still we find, this chip is responsible for detect image types and adjust the parameters of the camera  automatically to obtain the best snapshot. Already in his time the writer was able to see first-hand the benefits of the NPU, first in the Huawei Mate 10 and then the Huawei P20 Pro launched in march of last year.

well, the arrival of the SoC Kirin 980 is a new evolution in the field of artificial intelligence because Huawei has implemented a NPU Dual to improve the recognition of images a 120% with respect to the previous generation Kirin 970. According to their calculations, this NPU double is able to recognize up to 4.600 scenes per minute. But best of all is coming, because the manufacturer, in addition to providing its own SDK to developers, has also announced the compatibility of this encapsulated with frameworks of artificial intelligence as Tensorflow and Caffee. In this way, the artificial intelligence will make the leap to other third-party applications beyond the image, so very soon we will see in the app stores (both Google and Huawei) for developments that may revolutionize the market and the experience of users with their smartphones.

In summary, Kirin 980 is again the great commitment of Huawei to storm the throne that holds Samsung from a few years ago as the first manufacturer in the world of smartphones. It will not be an easy task, but china has already demonstrated a muscle reaching and beating Apple, something that only a couple of years ago would have been unthinkable. The challenge, of course, is there. We’ll see how they behave the first devices governed by Kirin 980, the series Huawei Mate 20, you already have expected date of release: October 16 in London. We will watch it.