Huawei has attracted a lot of attention with its Kirin SoCs, and while it always lagged behind the competition, it appears that the game will soon change with the flagship Kirin 980 SoC, which is the world's first SoC made on TSMC's 7nm manufacturing process. In addition to being the first 7nm SoC, Huawei said it ticks a couple of other boxes, including the first to use Cortex-A76 cores, the first with Mali G76 GPU, the first with dual NPUs, the first with Cat.21 LTE modem, the first supporting LPDDR4X-2133, the first with up to 1.7Mbps WiFi, and the first with dual ISP. That's a lot of firsts.
Interesting octa-core design
The Huawei Kirin 980 SoC packs 6.9 billion transistors, a 6.8x increment in transistor density starting with the 28nm Kirin 920. The Kirin 980 SoC has an interesting octa-core design, featuring two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores clocked at up to 2.76GHz, two mid-performance Cortex-A76 cores at up to 1.92GHz and four low-power Cortex-A55 CPU cores at up to 1.8GHz. It is also the first one to include the Mali-G76 MP10 GPU.
Such design, as well as the fact that it is made on TSMC's 7nm manufacturing process, let Huawei make some bold claims, suggesting it could bring up to a 20 percent performance boost and up to a 40 percent performance improvement when it comes to power efficiency,l compared to the Kirin 970, which was not half bad either.
On the CPU front, the Cortex-A76 cores are likely to deliver up toa 75 percent performance boost and up to a 58 percent better power efficiency, while the GPU performance is up by 46 percent with up to 176 percent higher power efficiency. The GPU will also use Huawei's GPU Turbo technology which can boost the GPU clock under heavy load, providing better gaming performance, Huawei claimed.
In addition to improvements on the CPU and the GPU side, the Kirin 980 will also support LPDDR4X 2133MHz memory, which are likely to further boost performance.
All about dual NPUs, network/WiFi performance, and ISP
In addition to sheer performance, Huawei is also focusing on AI, with dual NPU units which are claimed to provide up to 220 percent faster image recognition, allowing it to recognize up to 4,500 images per minute.
While the Huawei P20 Pro has impressive camera performance, it said it further improved the ISP on the new Kirin 980, giving it higher data throughput and better multi-camera support. It also gets new HDR features, new noise reduction algorithms, better motion tracking, and more.
Huawei brings LTE Cat.21 to the Kirin 980, with download speeds of up to 1.4Gbps as well as new WiFi with the peak 1,732Mbps download.
In addition, Huawei claimed that while the Kirin 980 is a 4.5G SoC, it is 5G-ready, at least when paired up with the Balong 5000 modem.
Coming first with the Mate 20 and Magic 2 smartphones
The first smartphone powered by the new Kirin 980 SoC will be the Huawei Mate 20 series, which will launch on October 16th in London. Earlier at IFA 2018, Honor teased the Honor Magic 2 smartphone which will also pack the new Kirin 980 SoC, but unfortunately, there is no word on the launch date.